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Name the Experiment: Maxwell Relations

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


Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity is designed to help students connect thermodynamic derivatives with experiments that measure those quantities.
  2. Students use a Maxwell relation to design an experiment to measure a given partial derivative that would otherwise be challenging to measure.
  3. The compare-and-contrast wrap up discussion highlights the process of finding the relevant Maxwell relation.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

Maxwell relations are quite useful in Physics, especially when trying to measure relationships between variables that are hard to measure. In previous instances of Name the experiment , students ran into difficulty if they were to measure the change in entropy (some students have drawn an “entropy meter” in their diagram). With Maxwell relations, these examples become easier to measure. Students will learn that they need to recognize what partial derivatives are easier to measure.


Instructor's Guide

Authors: David Roundy
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