From Fear To Fun In Thermodynamics Documents

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From Fear To Fun In Thermodynamics 

written by David J. Roundy, Ayush Gupta, Joseph F. Wagner, Tevian Dray, Mary Bridget Kustusch, and Corinne A. Manogue

The complexity of thermodynamics challenges many students as well as faculty. Understanding what a partial derivative represents may be key to reducing the anxiety associated with this topic. In this session, participants engaged with a sequence of activities designed to elucidate the mathematics of thermodynamics through multiple representations of partial derivatives. Activities include: experiments that provide exemplars of measuring thermodynamic quantities involving partial derivatives, thought experiments where students design ways to measure particular partial derivatives representing thermodynamic quantities, a mechanical analogue that physically represents changes that hold specific quantities fixed, and an algebraic formulation of a partial derivative chain rule. Our discussants, Ayush Gupta and Joseph Wagner, each comment on how their different research perspectives can contribute to and are necessary for a holistic understanding of what happens during this kind of curricular sequence.

Published February 1, 2014
Last Modified December 19, 2013

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