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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 18 (2013) pp 159-164
DOI 10.1007/s00897132497

A Novel Lab Experiment for Introductory Thermodynamics – “Water Heater Challenge”

Kevin A. Pyatt

Regis University, School of Education, 3333 Regis Blvd., 80221 Denver,
Received February 10, 2013. Accepted May 18, 2013.

Published: 5 July 2013

Abstract. This paper presents the design and delivery of a novel lab experiment which has been used to teach introductory thermodynamics to first-year chemistry students. This lab was designed as a continuation of calorimetric studies for an introductory chemistry course. In this lab experiment, students utilize and apply their understanding of important concepts in introductory thermodynamics (e.g., change in enthalpy; heat of formation; heat of reaction; Hess’s law; and calorimetry) to construct and test a small-scale water heater. They evaluate fuel efficiency, heat capacity, and insulating capacity. Students compare their experimental results to those of their peers to better understand the thermodynamics of their water heater system. The classroom and laboratory materials needed for implementation of this lab are fully described, along with supporting classroom materials, student activity sheet, sample student data, and safety instructions. This lab has been successfully conducted for a three year duration with approximately 200 chemistry students conducting the experiment.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; thermodynamics

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Article in PDF format (178 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

The supporting information associated with this laboratory experiment includes a Student Activity Sheet (315 KB).

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