Fluid dynamics art exploration: An undergraduate research course

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Mechanical Engineering

Conference Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings


Vancouver, BC, Canada

Date of Presentation



A unique undergraduate research course is reported here. The course was created for a student to explore the fertile field that interfaces fluid dynamics and art. The course encompassed several components including creation of visually engaging objects utilizing fluid motion as a central theme. In this paper, the course structure and content are outlined, followed by description of three projects to illustrate how interested students can create objects that aesthetically showcase fluids-related phenomena. The objects produced via these projects are suitable as demonstration tools in informal science education, and they can be easily replicated with a budget of $400 at other institutions. The first project was to create ten distinct flow visualization photographs using safe household fluids and simple setups. In the second project, an interactive device was developed with which granular (sand) flow is demonstrated in a fun and mesmerizing manner. For the third project, a series of modified Hele-Shaw cells were developed that exhibit the interaction between air bubbles and a viscous liquid (olive oil) in a museum-quality display. © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.



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