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Comparing System and Surroundings: Instructor's Guide

Main Ideas

  • Students will learn how to classify the system and surroundings
  • They will use the concrete example of a previous lab

Students' Task

Estimated Time: 10 minutes

Students will classify everything from their previous experiment into system and surroundings.

Prerequisite Knowledge

  • Basic understanding of how to differentiate between a system and its surroundings


Activity: Introduction

As the activity is presented, students should be reminded of the definitions of system and surroundings. Students should then work in small groups to classify each thing from the previous experiment into system and surroundings.

Activity: Student Conversations

I think that though this activity was good, there was often still some confusion at the end of it. Bringing the idea back during other lab activities could serve to cement the ideas into the students' minds. For example, the Rubber band lab has a similar number of elements to it, so discussing what the actual system and surroundings are for that lab could really help. - Amanda Abbott

Activity: Wrap-up

At the end of the activity, the class should be brought back together to make a class list of where things belong. Any discrepancies from the class should be addressed at this point.


This idea of comparing system and surroundings can be added to any other labs from the course, including the Melting ice lab and the Rubber band lab .

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