Learning Thermodynamics and Using Spreadsheets

Sumit Chakraborty and Somnath Dasgupta
,
Institut fuer Geologie, Mineralogie and Geophysik and Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India
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Summary

These files contain a set of three Excel files to balance mineral reactions, to explore variation of thermodynamic properties as a function of P, T and composition and to explore stability of different mineral reactions using the popular thermodynamic databases of Berman and Holland and Powell. A set of instructions as well as some suggested exercises are included as Word files.

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Context

Audience

This activity is designed for a sophomore or junior level required course in petrology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

How the activity is situated in the course

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

This exercise uses Excel files to aid students in their ability to balance mineral reactions, to explore variation of thermodynamic properties as a function of P, T and composition and to explore stability of different mineral reactions using the popular thermodynamic databases of Berman and Holland and Powell.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This activity involves data analysis.

Other skills goals for this activity

This activity should aid in students' ability to use Excel.

Description of the activity/assignment

These files contain a set of three Excel files to balance mineral reactions, to explore variation of thermodynamic properties as a function of P, T and composition and to explore stability of different mineral reactions using the popular thermodynamic databases of Berman and Holland and Powell. A set of instructions as well as some suggested exercises are included as Word files. This allows students with little knowledge of thermodynamics to explore stability quantitatively (e.g. to see what metastable and stable mean); students learning thermodynamics can see the workings of the databases from the "inside" and explore various properties including thermodynamic mixing behavior and non-ideality using simple models. The material can be used to accompany students from fairly introductory courses to advanced thermodynamics courses.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The goals of this activity are met if students answer the questions in the problem set accurately and thoroughly.

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