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Comparing the System and Surroundings

Keywords: system, surroundings, comparative, Energy and Entropy, Small Group Activity


Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity is designed to give students practice with identifying what is part of a system and what is part of the system's surroundings.
  2. Students use what they know to classify each part of the previous experiment as either a part of the system or of the system's surroundings.
  3. The whole class discussion focuses on ensuring that students understand how to determine whether something is part of a system or of the system's surroundings.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

Students will often all have different ideas about how the system and surroundings are separated from one another in the previous Ice calorimetry lab . While some things are obvious, the others are less so. Most students will put the water and ice in the system, and the outside of the cup in the surroundings, but almost everything else will be classified differently by each student. This is an excellent way to show that the classification is important, as it will change the calculations that need to be done later.


Instructor's Guide

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