Teaching of Thermodynamics
Wednesday 5 December 2012.
Institute of Physics, London
Thermodynamics is considered one of the most fundamental topics in physics, but it is also one of the most confusing. Just what, for example, is the Second Law? Is it a statement about heat engines, as proposed by Kelvin and initially Clausius, or is it something much more general about entropy changes, as Clausius later suggested? If it is the latter, what is entropy? Is it a measure of disorder, as has been proposed in the past, or is it connected to information? Just what is the role of information theory within statistical mechanics and what is the connection with classical thermodynamics? These are questions that excite debate among even professional physicists, let alone students. So, how should we teach these subjects so that our students develop a firm foundation for further study of advanced topics such as non-extensive thermodynamics of Black Holes?
This meeting will explore ways of teaching the foundations of thermodynamics from a range of speakers who have a long standing interest in both the teaching of, and research into, the subject.
Meeting Report (PDF, 132 KB)
|10:30||Registration and refreshments|
David Sands, University of Hull and Paul Yates, HEA
|11:15||Teaching Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics – to integrate or not? (PDF, 342 KB)|
Prof Brian Cowan, Royal Holloway
|11:45||The importance of cycles in teaching thermodynamics|
Dr Jeremy Dunning-Davies, IFM Einstein-Galileo
|12:15||Entropy in the teaching of thermal physics (PDF, 969 KB)|
Prof Ian Ford, University College London
|12:45||Entropy and Self-Organised Criticality (PDF, 132 KB)|
Prof Mick Brown, University of Cambridge
|13:45||Energy in the school curriculum|
Charles Tracy, Institute of Physics
|14:15||(provisional) Biological Physics as a vehicle for teaching thermodynamic concepts|
Dr Sarah Harris, University of Leeds
|14:45||Entropy – Is it what we think it is and how should we teach it? (PDF, 350 KB)|
Dr David Sands, University of Hull