Heat Capacity of Minerals: A Hands-On Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
- General chemistry (thermodynamics)
- Using a balance
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- introducing them to important concepts (thermodynamics) and skills (data analysis and presentation)
- making connections between mineralogy and other disciplines and relate to life applications
- promoting collaborative student work.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Minerals are inorganic chemical compounds with a wide range of physical and chemical properties. Geologists frequently measure and observe properties such as hardness, specific gravity, color, etc. Unfortunately, students usually view these properties simply as tools for identifying unknown mineral specimens. One of the objectives of this exercise is to make students aware of the fact that minerals have many additional properties that can be measured, and that all of the physical and chemical properties of minerals have important applications beyond that of simple mineral identification.
Please do not let the title of this exercise scare you away. Introducing students to thermodynamics is not the primary objective. Getting students to "do" science - to observe, record, and interpret experimental data - is the primary goal. Heat capacity just happens to be a good vehicle for this purpose.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Teaching materials and tips
- Assignment description, hand outs, and instructor (Microsoft Word 113kB Apr25 08)
- Assignment description, hand outs, and instructor (Acrobat (PDF) 110kB May3 08)
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