Syllabus for Thermodynamics Modeling Workshop

(PHS 594/CHM 594: Thermodynamics Modeling Workshop)

Instructor:                    Levi Torrison, Ph.D

Location:                     ASU Tempe, Physical Sciences Center, H wing, room 357

Dates & hours:            July 5-15, 2016. 8 am to 3:30 pm MTWRF



Course overview: Modeling Instruction for AP physics and Chemistry instructors that extends previous models to include advanced concepts such as free energy, entropy, heat cycles, and heat capacity. Prerequisite: a Modeling Workshop in mechanics or 1st semester chemistry.



Course content: This Modeling Workshop is aligned with the College Board’s new AP Chemistry and AP Physics Big Ideas, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Knowledges in thermodynamics. Much overlap exists in thermodynamics in the AP-II physics and AP chemistry courses: both courses include atomic and molecular systems; internal energy, thermal energy, and heat; ideal gases and kinetic theory; electrostatic forces; entropy; the first and second laws of thermodynamics; and reversible and irreversible processes. This Modeling Workshop is truly interdisciplinary, giving the “big picture” of thermodynamics.


Specific content in thermodynamics:

AP chemistry content (new in 2013) is described by the College Board in Big Idea 5: The laws of thermodynamics describe the essential role of energy and explain and predict the direction of changes in matter. Big Idea 5 is categorized as these enduring understandings:

5.A: Two systems with different temperatures that are in thermal contact will exchange energy. The quantity of thermal energy transferred from one system to another is called heat.

5.B: Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but only transformed from one form to another.

5.C: Breaking bonds requires energy, and making bonds releases energy.

5.D: Electrostatic forces exist between molecules as well as between atoms or ions, and breaking the resultant intermolecular interactions requires energy.

5.E: Chemical or physical processes are driven by a decrease in enthalpy or an increase in entropy, or both.


The five enduring understandings are categorized into sixteen essential knowledges. For example, 5.E.3: If a chemical or physical process is not driven by both entropy and enthalpy changes, then the Gibbs free energy change can be used to determine whether the process is thermodynamically favored.

The description of the AP Chemistry course is at


AP Physics 2 thermodynamics content (new in 2014) overlaps with that of chemistry. The College Board describes it in “ AP Physics 1 and 2 Course and Exam Description” at

Laws of Thermodynamics, Ideal Gases, and Kinetic Theory are addressed in Big Ideas 1, 4, 5, 7. Thus, for example, Big Idea 7: The mathematics of probability can be used to describe the behavior of complex systems and to interpret the behavior of quantum mechanical systems.


Big Idea 7 includes these enduring understandings:

7.A: The properties of an ideal gas can be explained in terms of a small number of macroscopic variables including temperature and pressure.

7.B: The tendency of isolated systems to move toward states with higher disorder is described by probability. An essential knowledge is 7.B.2: The second law of thermodynamics describes the change in entropy for reversible and irreversible processes. Only a qualitative treatment is considered in this course.


STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: At successful course completion, students will have

-     improved their instructional pedagogy by incorporating the modeling cycle, inquiry methods, critical and creative thinking, cooperative learning, and effective use of classroom technology,

-     deepened their understanding of content in thermodynamics (as described above),

-     practiced instructional strategies of model-centered discourse, Socratic questioning/whiteboarding, use of standardized evaluation instruments, coherent content organization,

-     strengthened coordination between mathematics, physics, and chemistry,

-     increased their skill in all eight scientific practices recommended by the National Research Council in “A Framework for K-12 Science Education.” Models and theories are the purpose and the outcomes of scientific practices. They are the tools for engineering design and problem solving. As such, modeling guides all other practices.


LISTING OF ASSIGNMENTS: This course meets for ~60 hours (studio format) in summer, and you are required to do at least 30 hours of work outside of class, including reading, worksheets, lab reports, and writing. Assignments are listed in the course itinerary; their links to student learning outcomes are evident in the itinerary.




A. Attendance:

You are expected to attend all 9 days of this course. If you miss one day, your maximum grade will be a B; if two, you may earn no higher than a C. Please be on time and ready to go! If you must miss a class or will be late, please email the instructor as soon as you can.


B. Grading policy:

All participants, whether seeking ASU credit or not, are expected to do activities and homework, as described below for a “C” grade. Non-credit participants are required to turn in these assignments which will be graded as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” for purposes of awarding CEUs. Notebooks containing Labs and Reflections will be collected and evaluated once a week as listed in the agenda. We believe they will be a valuable resource as you use the curricular materials in your classes.


Letter grades: (Note: Late work will not be accepted.) The following will be used to determine letter grades for those taking this course for ASU graduate credit. Students will contract for a letter grade on the second day. Contracting for a letter grade is not a guaranteed grade. Work must be completed at ASU standards and meet all class requirements.




Minimum Requirements


Class attendance and class participation in activities. Discussions, whiteboard presentations, log of activities/teacher notes in the lab book (highlighted), completion of assigned readings/reflections, worksheets, tests etc.

Reflections and Lab Writeups due on Thursdays.


All of the above plus a two-page typed reflection paper discussing how Modeling Instruction differs from your current practices and what changes you plan to incorporate or the issues with which you will have to deal to implement Modeling Instruction in your classroom. Reflection Paper due on last Tues.


All the above plus 2 activities (lesson plans) modified or developed for pilot use in the classroom this school year. Lesson plans must be in a Modeling format (pre-activity discussion, exploration, post-activity discussion) and lead to constructing a model or using a model to solve a problem (3 page minimum for each lesson plan). Lesson Plan due on the last Wednesday.



C. Grading scale:      97-100 A+ 93-96.9 A 90-92.9 A-

            87-89.9 B+ 83-86.9 B 80-82.9 B-

            77-79.9 C+ 73-76.9 C 70-72.9 C-


Policies of Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), ASU, and Department of Physics:

* ABOR: Each student is expected to work a minimum of 45 hours per semester hour of credit.

* Pass-fail is not an option for graduate courses.

* 3.0 grade point average (GPA) is minimum requirement for MNS & other graduate degrees.

* Incomplete: only for special circumstances. Must finish course within 1 year, or it becomes “E”.

* An instructor may drop a student for non-attendance during the first two class days (in summer).

* An instructor may withdraw a student with a mark of "W" or a grade of "E" only in cases of disruptive classroom behavior."

* The ASU Department of Physics is critical of giving all A's, because it indicates a lack of discrimination. A grade of "B" (3.0) is an average graduate course grade, and obviously not all students do above-average work compared to their peers. Some of you can expect to earn a "B”, and those who are below average but do acceptable work will earn a "C".


Academic dishonesty policy: Academic honesty is expected of all students in all examinations, papers, laboratory work, academic transactions and records. The possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, appropriate grade penalties, course failure (indicated on the transcript as a grade of E), course failure due to academic dishonesty (indicated on the transcript as a grade of XE), loss of registration privileges, disqualification and dismissal. For more information, see


Disability policy: Qualified students with disabilities who require disability accommodations in this course are encouraged to make their requests to the instructor on the first class day or before. Note: Prior to receiving disability accommodations, verification of eligibility from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) is required. Disability information is confidential.



No textbook. 3-ring binder (preferably 2 inches thick); 6 tab inserts. You will also need a 9” x 12” quad-ruled lab notebook. This size will allow you to easily tape or paste in data you collect and graphs you produce from the labs you perform during the workshop, as well as your reflections on activities and readings assigned. (Buy at ASU bookstore or Staples for ~$15).


REQUIRED READINGS: (Get print copy from instructor if you cannot download for free.)