Vocational school teachers have reported that it is highly inefficient to theoretically impart the technical functionalities and the inter-dependencies of the different components of complex heating systems. HeatingSim shall thus allow students to infer the technical functionalities and the inter-dependencies of the different components through their own exploration.

the great aim of education is not knowledge but action

For this project, the text book scheme of a solar heating system for heating technicians has served as a template for the design of an interactive simulation. The simulation allows the user to change the size of the main components of such a system (i.e. collector size, register size & tank size) and observe the impact on its functioning.

User interface of the interactive HeatingSim scheme with its main components: buttons to see task description and suggest a solution to the customer in written form (a) sun collector with adjustable size (b), register with adjustable size (c), water tank with adjustable size (d), indication of the time of day with adjustable simulation speed (e), button to start and pause simulation with the selected settings (f), indication of initial settings (g), indication of temperature at various locations in the simulation (also indicated directly in the simulation) (h), plot of temperatures over time and possibility to compare plots with different settings (i), indication of state of the pump (on / off) (j)

The apprentices were asked to adapt the settings of a malfunctioning heating system for it to produce enough warm water throughout the day (in a first task without water consumption, in a second task with water consumption). In order to find the right relation between the sizes of the main components of the system (water tank, register and collector), the simulations allows to compare temperature plots of all the measuring points in the system with different settings. According to their observations, the learners can deduce the general requirements for a solar heating system to function properly.