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Abstract Title: Students modeling of particle diffusion - From Dynamics to Equilibrium Statistical Thermodynamics
Abstract: An introductory curriculum was developed which builds the conceptual physics framework behind complex phenomena that are of interest to the materials and life sciences. The curriculum was implemented, evaluated and refined in a course for interested and capable high-school students.
To deal with their limited prior knowledge, students first analyzed particle diffusion by computing the step-by-step temporal evolution of many-particle systems. The construction and analysis of computational dynamical models allowed them to justify and concretize the shift from Newtonian dynamics to random-walks. Only then was the more abstract, statistical thermodynamics treatment of non-interacting systems in equilibrium presented. This analysis set the stage for later discussions of entropy and the second law as-well-as the physics of systems relevant to life sciences, such as polymeric macromolecules. We will present findings regarding changes in students' perceptions and their attitudes regarding various models for particle diffusion following completion of the program.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session I
Poster Number: A88

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Ariel Steiner
Weizmann Institute of Science
and Co-Presenter(s)
Ariel Abrashkin, Weizmann Institute of Science
Prof. Sam Safran, Weizmann Institute of Science
Prof. Edit Yerushalmi, Weizmann Institute of Science