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Applying the Second Law

Keywords: Energy and Entropy, Second and Third Law, Thermodynamic Processes, Small Group Activity


Highlights of the activity

  1. This small group activity is designed to give students practice with determining whether a process is reversible or irreversible.
  2. Students use their knowledge about entropy (irreversibility) to classify processes as either reversible or irreversible.
  3. The whole class discussion focuses on ensuring that students understand how to determine the reversibility of a process.

Reasons to spend class time on the activity

We have found that students initially find it challenging to determine if a thermodynamic process is reversible or irreversible. Frequently giving students exercises in analyzing thermodynamic processes using the second law improves the ability to recognize a reversible process as opposed to one that is irreversible. This activity provides students the opportunity to practice assessing reversible and irreversible processes.


Instructor's Guide

Student Handouts



Authors: Corinne Manogue
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