This Digital Tool was used to help me accurately determine where each of my students were in relation to the material that we were covering, while keeping them engaged and excited about an activity that is out of the ordinary.

Lesson Title: Understanding Actuators and Positioners

Learning Objectives:

  • Properly identify different types of actuators and categorize them as pneumatic, electric, or hydraulic.
  • Determine the actions, Direct-acting or Reverse-acting, and predict how each will respond to a change in input signals.
  • Upon observation, indicate the action and fail-state of the actuator and valve.
  • Recognize parts and components associated with single-acting and double-acting actuators.
  • Explain the importance of positioners and define their role in a control loop.

Lesson Explanation:

I will start off by giving a re-cap of the complete Control Loop we have been studying up until this point.  Everything that we discussed in our control loop somehow tied to the “final element” which is made up of the valve, actuator, and positioner.  We have already covered valves, so now we will begin actuators and positioners to give everyone a thorough understanding of how the complete loop works together.

We will watch a video to begin our introduction. This video, is a general overview and brief introduction to different types of actuators and positioners offering digital animations as well as real, field photographs for them to see.

After the video, I will take the students to our inside unit and let them walk through and try to find and identify all of the pneumatic and electric actuators.  (This will be an informal formative assessment) I will walk around amongst the groups as they talk things over between their peers.  I will listen to see if the class seems to have a solid understanding of the content.  I will make sure everyone knows to ask me if anyone has any disagreements on what something should be classified as.

When everyone is comfortable with the devices on the inside unit, we will go to the outside unit.  We will split into groups of 4, and assign each group a control valve.  Each group must connect their air supply to the actuator to replicate a direct-acting actuator.  Each group will also have to connect their signal lines coming from the controller to the positioner, and from the positioner to the actuator.  (This will also be an informal formative assessment) The students will be able to work together, help each other, and use me as a last resource.  I will check each groups’ connections after they are finished.  If a group has anything wrong, I will tell them they are not complete, and give them a chance to collaborate with the other groups to try to fix their problem. When everyone has their control valve connections complete, and feels comfortable, we will go back inside.

When we return to the classroom I will have everyone pull their phones out to get ready for the next assessment.  I have created a short overview quiz on Kahoot! to analyze the classroom knowledge on our lesson.  (Formative Assessment)


Why I chose what I did:

I chose to use a formative assessment because my students get so wrapped up in their final letter grade, that they forget the real reason they are in the class is to actually learn a certain set of material!  The instrumentation field can be very dangerous if my students do now know their material, and know it well before they are released into the real-world.  When they are so “grade-focused” they tend to memorize information for the test, make the grade, and forget it three days later.  My goal is to take some of that grade pressure off and hopefully inspire an atmosphere where they are actually wanting to learn the material.  That also plays into why I chose Kahoot! Kahoot! is one of the many digital tools which incorporates students own electronic devices.  If we tell them to pull their phones out, instead of always staying on them to put them away (forcing them to hide them under the table to play on them) they may become more likely to use them for the right reasons, and actually engage in our activities, and hopefully take some knowledge away with them!  Kahoot! also has a neat Ghost Mode that allows interactive competitive gameplay where I can play classroom against classroom.  My students are always trying to “out-do” other classes.  If I play into this competition and say, “Let’s see who can really out-score the other class”, they will probably try harder than normal.