Navigate to course home page

Thermodynamic Partials

Keywords: Energy and Entropy, Maxwell Relations, Partial Derivative, Small Group Activity


Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity is designed to help students understand the origin of Maxwell relations.
  2. Students seek a Maxwell relation that will allow them to find a relationship between two given thermodynamic derivatives.
  3. The compare-and-contrast wrap-up discussion addresses how to decide on a thermodynamic potential that is likely to generate a helpful Maxwell relation.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

Oftentimes, students have only been given the Maxwell relations in previous classes and asked to accept them as facts. This exercise gives students the opportunity to use the different internal energy differentials and derive one or two of the Maxwell relations for themselves. Once the entire class finishes relating their partial differentials, the results of each group can be written on the board and recorded by the entire class. Deriving the Maxwell relations in their own groups provides a more solid foundation for recalling each relation when solving future thermodynamic problems.


Instructor's Guide

Authors: Corinne Manogue
To edit this page, go here

Personal Tools