Session S19b (Monday, 2pm, Wartik 107)

P241: Why does freezing occur? An interactive activity towards understanding change in entropy of the universe

Evy Colon-Garcia, Melanie Cooper (Clemson University, USA)

Thermodynamics is often considered a very difficult topic for students, at all levels of chemistry, in part because it requires an understanding of a number of concepts and is typically taught with a mathematics heavy approach. Prior studies have shown that from students’ first formal exposure to upper level physical chemistry courses, many of them struggle with fundamental thermodynamic concepts such as entropy, enthalpy and Gibbs Free Energy. This lack of understanding hinders students’ comprehension of concepts such as why phase changes occur and how equilibrium systems can be manipulated to produce a desired outcome. We are developing a range of interactive activities to help students understand these concepts, as well as researching how a different curriculum can help students understand these concepts. This presentation will discuss an activity built around entropy and phase changes. It offers students an opportunity to work towards comprehending what is happening at the microscopic level with regards to enthalpy and entropy as systems go through a phase change.


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