- Unit Overview -

Humankind has always tried to understand and control heat. Our understanding, which first kept us from freezing in Winter, grew until we learned how to convert heat into the mechanical energy which drives industry. Now we understand even the thermonuclear processes which light our sun and all other stars. This Heat and Temperature unit explores several key ideas concerning the measurement and control of heat. Feedback is a theme which threads through the history of our study of heat. Feedback is at work in thermostats, homiostatis, and heat engines.

This unit presents several projects which will help you understand heat. You start by learning how to measure temperature and then go on to how to control it. As the unit unfolds, you are introduced to the major concepts of heat and temperature that are usually taught in physics, but through a series of interesting projects. In the -Messing Around- section you will get a feeling for ways in which temperature can be measured. After learning about temperature measurement, work through the -Core Project- and then choose an - Extension- and use what you have learned to investigate more about Heat & Temperature

By the end of this unit, you should be able to:

The Learning Strategies:

Learn by Doing
Most people learn concepts by making things and then thinking about them. Too often students try to jump ahead and memorize the equations and definitions without giving themselves time to think. This is why Hands-On-Physics units emphasize "hands on" building.

HOP Structure
There are three major sections to each unit: "messing around," a "core project," and then "extensions." The "messing around" part is a chance to learn the big physics concepts without worrying about a lot of details and computations. The "core project" is an extended construction project that everyone does. Then you choose one of a number of "extensions" to work on.

Think in Lab
It is important that you use your mind while you are in the lab doing these various projects. You cannot just follow the directions and fill in the blanks. We don't tell you every little step because you should be learning how to do things yourself. Eventually, we want you to be able to undertake an entire project. To get to this level, you have to make larger and larger steps without help.

Fill in the Gaps
You may find this frustrating. You may get mad at the instructions that seem vague and you may wish your teacher could help you all the time. But before asking for help, talk it out in your group; try to invent a way out of your problem. If you are not sure whether you are doing the "right thing", write down what your problem was and what you decided.

Make Mistakes Rapidly
Remember, it is okay to make mistakes; we learn from our mistakes. Always think about safety and try to avoid breaking things. But if you make a mistake, don't be discouraged; just try again. The more mistakes you make, the more you must be learning.

Start messing around

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