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Naming and Classifying Thermodynamic Variables

Keywords: Interlude, Thermodynamic Variables, Small Group Activity


Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity is designed to familiarize students with thermodynamic variables and their classifications.
  2. Students use variable cards they create to relate and classify many thermodynamic variables.
  3. The whole class discussion focuses on ensuring that students understand the classifications and relations of thermodynamic variables.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

Thermodynamics has numerous variables that are used commonly. After writing all of the proposed variables on the board, the students will be presented the more common variables as well as see the omission of any variables that are considered redundant. This activity also provides the professor an opportunity to find what variables the majority of the class is already familiar with. Using note cards for this activity provides students the opportunity to physically sort the thermodynamic variables into intensive and extensive variables. By writing what the dimensions of each thermodynamic variable are somewhere on the note card, students will have a quick reference to finding the conjugate pairs when the variables multiplied together have dimensions of energy. With the information concerning conjugate pairs on the note card, students would also be able to see that for every conjugate pair, one variable is intensive and the other is extensive. Although this could be shown on a blackboard, the note cards offer students the opportunity to make notes concerning conjugate pairs and intensive & extensive variables directly onto whatever variable they are concerned with.


Instructor's Guide

Authors: Corinne Manogue
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