A Virtual Teaching Module for Learning the Basic Concepts of Shape Memory Alloys
A shape memory alloy (SMA) is an alloy which can eliminate the deformation at lower temperatures and restore its original shape upon heated. The SMA has been receiving considerable attention in materials science, and its applications include robotics, automotive, aerospace and biomedical industries. Observing the shaping and restoration processes of an SMA is important for understanding its working principles and applications. However, the transformation of its nanostructure with temperatures can only be seen using special equipment such as the transmission electron microscope. In this study, a teaching module is designed using the virtual reality (VR) technology and the research results of SMA to show its shape memory properties, shaping and restoration processes as well as real-life applications in an immersive and interactive way. A teaching experiment has been conducted to investigate the learning effectiveness of students using the proposed teaching module in comparison with that of using real SMA materials as the teaching aids. The experimental results show that the virtual teaching module can enhance the learning effectiveness significantly, and the questionnaire results also reveal that most students held positive attitudes toward the teaching module. They believed it could increase their learning interest and help them understand the properties and applications of the SMA.
Index Terms - virtual reality, shape memory alloy, transmission electron microscope, shaping, restoration.