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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 23 (2018) pp 16-20

Heat Capacity of a Thermally Insulated Cup: Connecting Students to Science

L. Dalila Mathews

Department of Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics, University of Montevallo, UM Station 6480, Montevallo, Alabama 35115, USA,
Received October 3, 2017. Accepted January 1, 2018.

Published: 2 February 2017

Abstract. The difficulties that chemistry students have with understanding the basic concepts of thermodynamics have been well documented over the years. Many of the issues stem from a deep misunderstanding of the concepts of heat. Students are slow to accept that it is an energy transfer and not a substance. Furthermore, the students have difficulty relating to the concepts of calorimetry. This paper details a simple experiment that demonstrates the utility of calorimetry in daily life and has the student determine if one insulated cup is better than another. The heat capacities of an Ozark Trail insulated cup and a Yeti insulated cup are determined and compared.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; thermodynamics

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (200 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Information for how to determine the surface area of the cup can be found in the supplemental information. The laboratory handout created for this experiment can be found in the supporting material. (89 KB)

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