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Name the experiment! Interpreting thermodynamic derivatives as thought experiments
American Journal of Physics (2014)
  • David Roundy
  • Mary Bridget Kustusch
  • Corrine Manogue
We introduce a series of activities to help students understand the partial derivatives that arise in thermodynamics. Students construct thought experiments that would allow them to measure given partial derivatives. These activities are constructed with a number of learning goals in mind, beginning with helping students to learn to think of thermodynamic quantities in terms of how one can measure or change them. A second learning goal is for students to understand the importance of the quantities held fixed in either a partial derivative or an experiment. Students additionally are given an experimental perspective—particularly when this activity is combined with real laboratory experiments—on the meaning of either fixing or changing entropy. In this paper, we introduce the activities and explain their learning goals. We also include examples of student work from classroom video and follow-up interviews
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David Roundy, Mary Bridget Kustusch and Corrine Manogue. "Name the experiment! Interpreting thermodynamic derivatives as thought experiments" American Journal of Physics Vol. 82 Iss. 39 (2014)
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