Sensor integration in mathematical modeling

By Jennifer RittenHouse

Jennifer Rittenhouse is completing a Bachelor of Science major in Physics as well as a Mathematics minor. She is a nontraditional student who previously earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2010; She is considered a senior. Jennifer was inspired to do this project after turning a unique challenge into an asset. Students were asked to collaborate on a group project in her ordinary differential equations class which included taking experimental data and applying it to mathematical models. The prospects of collecting data would prove difficult with masks and social distancing in a virtual class. Jennifer turned to an Arduino

microcontroller and an array of sensors to collect temperature data and apply it to Newton’s Law of Cooling/Warming. Over the winter break, she wondered if other models studied in the class could be explored with inexpensive sensors. So, Hooke’s Law of Springs and simple harmonic motion, Newton’s Law of Free Fall were explored and overlaid over the theoretical modals on Mathematica. Having the ability to collect and analyze data related to the math that one is learning in class can further motivate and nourish math insight and critical thinking related to STEM fields. Jennifer hopes to teach physics at the college level as well as pursue research internships as soon as this summer. The skills that have been employed to bring this project to life will be invaluable for her career and hopefully in her classroom someday.

Author's Note: 

No conflicts Of Interest to disclose.

Special thanks to Marissa M Tripus, Creighton D. Young, and Dr. Baoling Ma for their assistance in the group project focused on Newton’s Law of Cooling which inspired this more expanded project.

Keywords:  STEM Education, microcontroller, mathematical models, sensors, Arduino, Wolfram Mathematica