Two simple experiments for a Thermal Physics classroom

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Workshop for Physics Teachers 2021

What is this session about

Make abstract concepts relatable

How do we help students engage with concepts from Heat and Temperature that are often at an abstract level?

History of Thermal Physics

Understand how people in the 1700s measured specific heat capacities and latent heat accurately and also perform a related experiment on ice calorimetry.

Easily get the idea of Absolute Zero

Measure absolute zero easily at the high school level

What do we discuss in this session?

In this session, we look at the history of some concepts and experiments in Thermal Physics. We also discuss ways of doing these important experiments with easily available equipment.

  1. Making a constant pressure air thermometer with a scalp vein set
  2. Using this thermometer to verify Charles Law and to ‘discover’ absolute zero.
  3. Perform an ice calorimetry experiment derived from the ideas of Laplace and Lavoisier
00:00 Introduction
05:50 Perceiving versus measuring temperature
07:17 Philo’s thermoscope 250 BC
09:57 Recreating Amontons’ constant pressure air thermometer from 1695 with a scalp vein set
14:40 Why is this a constant pressure air thermometer?
16:48 Extrapolating to absolute zero
19:34 Verifying Charles Law
22:14 How accurate are the values for absolute zero?
25:01 A question about mixing water at different temperatures
29:50 A common misconception about specific heat capacity and density
31:38 The method of mixtures – heat transfer and thermal equilibrium
40:18 Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics – Joseph Black
45:13 An online simulation for calorimetry
48:22 Another question on mixing in the intermission
53:19 Using ice calorimetry to find specific heat capacity of solids – Laplace and Lavoisier
54:54 Calorimetry and heat released in animals during metabolism
56:52 A home-experiment on ice calorimetry for lockdown times
01:02:04 Dulong and Petit’s results on specific heat capacities and atomic weights
01:09:54 A video of a student performing the ice calorimetry experiment

Other resources:

Boyle’s Law
Ice calorimetry
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