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## Recent documents in Spreadsheets in Education (eJSiE)

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2018 15:14:28 PST

Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulations in Undergraduate Biology Education

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 15:52:47 PST

A course in computational biology that introduces undergraduate biology students to mathematical modelling and computer simulations is described. Spreadsheets offer the perfect environment to introduce our biology students to computational thinking and the increasing role that computer simulations are playing in biology research. Here, we detail the spreadsheet modelling of some of the simulations covered in the course; the Lotka-Volterra predator-prey model, a cellular automaton model of tumor growth, and a model of an infectious disease outbreak. The experience of implementing computational biology simulations in a spreadsheet environment encourages and enables our biology students to use computer simulations and spreadsheets more in their future research, and makes our students more comfortable when interpreting scientific literature that pertains to computational biology research. These are important skills that our biology students will need in their future careers as researchers and scientists.

An MS Excel Add-in for Calculating Darcy Friction Factor

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 15:10:44 PST

An MS Excel add-in was prepared for calculating Darcy friction factor. The tool contains a function named “FFACTOR” and it calculates friction factor under laminar, transient, and turbulent conditions. Under turbulent conditions, the function employs a total of 25 friction factor models and the user can select one of these to calculate Darcy friction factor. Tip texts and pop-up help were also prepared and are available if open-source Excel-DNA Intellisense add-in is also added to MS Excel. The students can benefit from the MS Excel add-in. Also, professors can use it for teaching purposes

Excel VBA-Based Solution to Pipe Flow Measurement Problem

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:48:02 PST

Estimation of mean flow velocity in a pipe from pressure drop measurements using Darcy-Weisbach formula involves two nested loops of iteration. The outer loop iterates through the mean flow velocity while an inner loop is enclosed for calculating friction factor at a given flow velocity. The iterations are time-consuming and are somewhat difficult for hand calculations. MS Excel can be employed to solve this type of problem for saving time. This paper intends to show how it is possible to easily solve the mean flow velocity problem in a spreadsheet environment. Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) functions to be used with spreadsheet iterations were provided. Besides, solutions to variations of the above-mentioned problem such as calculation of roughness height were described. Both students and teachers can benefit from the procedures and electronic annex provided.

Using Spreadsheets to Facilitate Committee Discussions and to Assist Committee Decisions in an Academic Setting: A Case Study

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 00:57:47 PST

This paper is a case study on using spreadsheet tools to reduce the reliance on various manual tasks for committee work in an academic setting. Four types of tasks are covered. One of them is to establish collective preference rankings of candidates; it pertains to various committees. The remaining types are for graduate admissions. The coverage includes conversions of alternative test scores as achieved by individual applicants, a special case of university quality assessments, and record keeping in a rolling admission process. It is hoped that this paper can serve as a catalyst to generate interests among readers in exploring innovative ways to use spreadsheet tools in their own work settings.

Teaching Spreadsheet Documentation Skills using Practitioner based Workshops

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 15:24:13 PST

Proper documentation of spreadsheets and other forms of digital analysis is a common problem for business students entering professional practices. For example, when a spreadsheet is constructed and poorly documented as to assumptions and related descriptions the ability of others to effectively use the spreadsheet is eroded. This is particularly true when spreadsheets are prepared at the staff level, where such staff may subsequently leave the organization and others are left to rely on the document for important purposes (e.g., audits). Part of this problem could be alleviated by helping students first develop awareness of why poor documentation is a problem and then to develop habits and skills thereby enabling proper levels of documentation. This note describes an innovative approach used in an undergraduate accounting classroom. The innovation involves the use of workshops relying on certain types of co-presenters to facilitate student awareness to aid students in their preparation of Excel based analyses. While a short review of the relevant literature helps frame the issue, there is little published on best practices in teaching the documentation topic. The author explains the structure of the workshop (within the context of the class assignment) and provides the specific documentation elements emphasized. Evidence is provided as to the effectiveness of the approach. Thoughts and resources to enable replication are also supplied

Solution of the Implicit Colebrook Equation for Flow Friction Using Excel

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 14:33:16 PDT

Empirical Colebrook equation implicit in unknown flow friction factor (λ) is an accepted standard for calculation of hydraulic resistance in hydraulically smooth and rough pipes. The Colebrook equation gives friction factor (λ) implicitly as a function of the Reynolds number (Re) and relative roughness (ε/D) of inner pipe surface; i.e. λ0=f(λ0, Re, ε/D). The paper presents a problem that requires iterative methods for the solution. In particular, the implicit method used for calculating the friction factor λ0 is an application of fixed-point iterations. The type of problem discussed in this "in the classroom paper" is commonly encountered in fluid dynamics, and this paper provides readers with the tools necessary to solve similar problems. Students’ task is to solve the equation using Excel where the procedure for that is explained in this “in the classroom” paper. Also, up to date numerous explicit approximations of the Colebrook equation are available where as an additional task for students can be evaluation of the error introduced by these explicit approximations λ≈f(Re, ε/D) compared with the iterative solution of implicit equation which can be treated as accurate.

Functions and Mathematical Modelling with Spreadsheets

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 17:24:01 PDT

In this paper we intended to show how it is possible to encourage the use of computers in the learning of Mathematics, using development environments such as spreadsheets, with which teachers and students can develop interactive computer applications with graphical components and animation.

It also seeks to enhance the links between mathematics, technology and other sciences in order to enhance the power of mathematics for the simulation of physical phenomena.

The relationship between mathematics and observable physical phenomena are fundamental aspects for the implementation of an approach that favours the laboratory aspect of mathematics, together with the validation of hypotheses and mathematical modelling techniques (computer models) used to simulate the observed phenomena.

A Multi-Representational Approach to Teaching Number Sequences: Making Sense of Recursive and Explicit Formulas via Spreadsheets

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:49:19 PDT

This article offers innovative and original mathematical vignettes in the treatment of number sequences along with recursive and explicit formulas in a technology-supported multi-representational pedagogical context. Multiple representations are used to explain (i) how to help students understand summation identities of the form “Left-Hand-Side (LHS) equals Right-Hand-Side (RHS)” and (ii) how to use spreadsheet activities to lead to a better understanding of how to develop proofs for these formulas. LHS and RHS can at times be thought of as the recursive and explicit forms, of the number sequence under consideration, respectively. Such a multi-representational pedagogy comprises (but is not limited to) physical manipulatives, diagrams or drawn representations, visual proofs, algebraic representations, formal proofs, and spreadsheets. The article concludes by emphasizing the fundamental role of spreadsheets for a thorough understanding of summation formulas or identities of the form LHS = RHS and the transition from numerical evidence to formal mathematical proof.

Shrinkage of the Sample Correlation Matrix of Returns Towards a Constant Correlation Target: A Pedagogic Illustration Based on Dow Jones Stock Returns

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 12:43:30 PDT

This paper extends the introduction to shrinkage estimation in a recent paper from the same journal. The extension, which is in a portfolio investment context, is on shrinkage of the sample correlation matrix of returns towards a constant correlation target. Here, shrinkage estimation is about finding a weighted average of the sample correlation matrix and the target matrix, for a balance between reducing overall forecast errors and maintaining some existing idiosyncrasies in the individual correlations. Excel plays an important pedagogic role here. Besides illustrating the computations involved, the use of Excel also enables students to gain valuable hands-on experience in shrinkage estimation, by working with the Dow Jones stock returns in an Excel file accompanying this paper.

Empowering Polynomial Theory Conjectures with Spreadsheets

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 21:33:59 PDT

Polynomial functions and their properties are fundamental to algebra, calculus, and mathematical modeling. Students who do not have a strong understanding of the relationship between factoring and solving equations can have difficulty with optimization problems in calculus and solving application problems in any field. Understanding function transformations is important in trigonometry, the idea of the general antiderivative, and describing the geometry of a problem mathematically. This paper presents spreadsheet activities designed to bolster students' conceptualization of the factorization theorem for polynomials, complex zeros of polynomials, and function transformations. These activities were designed to use a constructivist approach involving student experimentation and conjectures.