I was recently drawn to an article published ASAP in JCE entitled Application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics To Explain the Working of Toys. Erick Castellon wrote the article highlighting the use of three toys that are used to help students develop an understanding of the second law of thermodynamics and entropy by having them observe the working of the toys and the energy transfers that occur while playing with them. I already had two of the toys, the radiometer and the drinking bird. I ordered the stirling engine from the link provided in the supporting information. As I waited for the stirling engine to arrive from Japan (which was only a few days) I attempted to write an activity to guide my students to conceptual understanding as they worked with the toys.
I wanted to strengthen my own understanding of the topics before I began writing, so I went back to JCE to find more related articles.
- Shuffled Cards, Messy Desks, and Disorderly Dorm Rooms - Examples of Entropy Increase? Nonsense! Frank L. Lambert 1999
- Disorder - A Cracked Crutch for Supporting Entropy Discussions, Frank L. Lambert 2002
- Entropy: Order or Information, Arieh Y. Ben-Naim 2011
- The Misinterpretation of Entropy as “Disorder”, Frank L. Lambert 2012
- Response to “The Misinterpretation of Entropy as ‘Disorder’” Arieh Y. Ben-Naim 2012
These are some of the articles that I read. There is some argument among authors about how best to teach the topic of entropy. I have used the term “disorder”. That word was used when I originally learned about entropy. And, of course, many of our text books still use that term along with analogies referencing messy bedrooms and similar situations. I have more reading to do. When I type “entropy” into the search box on the JCE Web site, there are many more articles on the topic!
I am wondering if any of you feel confident about the topic of entropy for general high school chemistry and AP level Chemistry and/or have a great activity or lesson to share. Perhaps you will point me to an article that I haven’t read yet. I will appreciate some input as I am putting together the toy lesson that got me involved in reading all of these articles. If you are like me and looking for answers to this or other topics, feel free to comment with your own questions and maybe we can figure this out together.