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Teaching the Second Law

Teaching the Second Law

This video was recorded at MIT World Series: Meeting the Entropy Challenge. Robert Silbey is an old hand at teaching chemistry (40 years and counting), yet each time he turns to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, he's "always very nervous." From this panel of educators, we get a sense of how challenging a classroom subject the Second Law can be. Joseph Smith notes that the teaching approach "depends on the application," and applications are both theoretical and practical. Students must first ask what is entropy, and why is it needed, says Smith. He focuses on "idealizations that often get ignored," such as isolation, equilibrium and system boundaries. "If we don't get those straight in the beginning student's mind, then there's a lot of confusion." To Howard Butler's way of thinking,... Show More


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Natalia Muñoz-Rujas
2 years ago

Great material for teachers who have to teach the 2nd law to their students.