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Peer Review

Ideal gas transformations

by Pascal Renault


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: May 03, 2003 by Physics
Overview: This is a shockwave applet showing the p-V and p-T diagrams for ideal gas processes. The four standard gas transformations, Isothermal, Adiabatic, Isobaric, and Isochoric, are included. The user can change the heat added or the volume. This item also contains a tutorial on thermodynamics and the ideal gas. It uses diagrams, gauges, and numbers to show thermodynamic quantities.
Type of Material: Interactive Shockwave simulation
Recommended Uses: Tutorial or Lecture-demo
Technical Requirements: Needs shockwave plugin to operate.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Qualitative knowledge of gas processes, and quantitative changes in gas parameters during thermodynamic processes.
Target Student Population: Undergrad, mostly lower level
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basics of Thermodynamics

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The applet is a very nicely presented demonstration of ideal gas processes. The results are both quantitative and qualitative, showing numerical values of p, V, and T, allowing quantitative exercises if desired.

It is possible to toggle between p-V and p-T graphs, giving different and interesting views of the same processes. Also, the choice to consider either a monatomic or diatomic gas is nice.

The extensive but short and readable review of the results of thermodynamics could be very useful for student self-study.

Concerns: It is only possible to perform processes by changing volume or adding heat. The ability to change temperature might also be useful.

The convention used in this work is to consider the work done on the gas rather than the work done by the gas, which is opposite to what is the standard in physics textbooks.

There is no numerical results for Q, W, and U for a process. Users will need to compute these.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: This can be used as a resource to stimulate student study of processes. It is quite useful for visualization of thermodynamic processes and graphs. Students could be given processes to investigate both using the applet and numerically. Results can be compared. It is possible, for example, to give students the general form for an engine cycle and have them compute the necessary change in volume and/or heat to realize an example of the cycle.
Concerns: Exercises will need to be created by the instructor to effectively use this applet.

Physics instructors will need to point out the non-standard definition of work.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This is a very simple applet to use. What one should do is obvious, and there are useful instructions for what can be done for each process. Numerical results are clearly displayed. It is very attractive.
Concerns: For each process, the user has control over only one or two thermodynamic quantities.

The limits on how much heat can be added may be a point of confusion for the user, and they should be made aware of this.

Q, W, and U are not shown in the applet. (This could be either a good thing or not, depending on how an instructor uses the applet.)