Unit Planner: Thermal physics

Unit 7: Thermal Physics

Start date:

End date:

Diploma assessment

When will the content be assessed?

Paper 1 x
Paper 2 x
Paper 3 x
Investigation x

Text book reference

Hamper: chapter 3

Inquiry: Establishing the purpose of the unit

Transfer Goals
List here one to three big, overarching, long-term goals for this unit. Transfer goals are the major goals that ask students to “transfer”, or apply, their knowledge, skills, and concepts at the end of the unit under new/different circumstances, and on their own without scaffolding from the teacher.

  • If there is a temperature difference heat will flow.
  • Heat is the transfer of energy
  • Internal energy is the energy of the moelcules

List here the key content that students will know by the end of the unit

  • The mole
  • Avogadro's constant
  • Heat and temperature
  • Conduction, convection and radiation
  • Specific heat capacity
  • latent heat
  • Gas laws
  • Ideal gas

List here the key skills that students will develop by the end of the unit.

  • Temperature measurement
  • Solving gas laws problems
  • Interpreting PV graphs
  • Deducing mechanisms for heat flow
  • Using Algodoo for modelling a gas
  • Use of LoggerPro for drawing graphs
  • Iterative modeling of a kettle using Excel

List here the key concepts that students will understand by the end of the unit

  • Understand how the states of matter can be explained using the particle model.
  • Introduce the concept of amount of matter being quantified by number of atoms.
  • Define the mole and Avagadro's number.
  • Understand how the macroscopic quantities heat and temperature relate to the microscopic properties of atoms.
  • Understand how the states of matter can be explained in terms of particles.
  • Have an idea as to how relative atomic masses were calculated.
  • Introduce the concept of Temperature and heat.
  • Understand the difference between temp and heat.
  • Use a thermometer to measure temperature.
  • Understand the difference between Kelvin and Celsius.
  • Understand the connection between heat and work.
  • See how the particle nature solves the problem of where energy goes when there is friction.
  • Explain conduction and convection in terms of particles.
  • Understand why some materials are better conductors than others.
  • Understand why trapping air reduces convection.
  • Accept that radiation is something different.
  • Remember that black radiates better than silver.
  • Identify the way heat is transferred in different examples and suggest how it could be increased or reduced.
  • Define Specific heat capacity and understand how it relates heat and temperature.
  • How to perform a simple experiment to measure the specific heat capacity.
  • Define heat capacity and understand when it is used instead of specific heat capacity.
  • Understand the how energy is associated with change of state.
  • Define Specific latent heat.
  • Understand why gases are the simplest state to model.
  • Know what assumptions are made about the motion of atoms in gas in the simple kinetic model..
  • Understand how the pressure exerted by a gas can be explained in terms of molecular motion.
  • Understand why the pressure changes with change in volume and temperature.
  • Introduce the concept of absolute temperature and understand why it is based on the pressure of an ideal gas at constant volume.

Examples of real world practical applications of knowledge.

  • Domestic heating
  • Cooking
  • Dressing to stay warm

Action: teaching and learning through Inquiry

Approaches to teaching
Tick boxes to indicate pedagogical approaches used.

Simulation x
Small group work (pairs) x
Hands on practical x
Video x
Student centred inquiry x

Examples of how TOK can be introduced in this unit

  • Could matter be continuous?
  • Is there an alternative to the particle theory of matter? Are we so used to explaining everything in terms of particles it is impossible to think outside the box?
  • Could it be possible to keep cutting the cheese for ever?
  • Common misconceptions related to drawings of atoms (too close, too big, liquid atoms further apart then solid).
  • Temperature is a quantity that we can perceive and measure, why isn't feeling good enough to base a physical model on?
  • Temperature is a quantity that can not be measured directly, we have to use e.g. the length of a mercury column. can we really say that we are measuring temp?
  • The difference between perceiving hot and cold an measuring temperature.
  • Why is red used to represent hot and blue cold? It should be the other way round.
  • Do desert dwellers really benefit from draughts up their robes or is this just a neat explanation to fit in with the physics course?
  • A lot of physics is about relationships between different quantities, here it's temperature and heat.
  • Students often understand the bouncy ball model but don't understand the gas but this is what the model is for, to help us visualise something that we can't see.
  • This is a good example where we can take the bouncy ball model and make predictions about the relationship between P, V and T to show how models or theories are used in physics.
  • These laws are a bit artificial in that for each law one of the quantities that defines the state of a gas must be kept constant. Making this simplification means that the changes can be represented on a 2D graph.

Examples of how NOS can be introduced in this unit.

  • What was the Greek's evidence for believing that the atom was the smallest unit of matter?
  • Simple is best.
  • How the particle model developed is a good example of the scientific method, could try to fit this into the how science works flow chart.
  • The way we can use knowledge related to rubber balls to explain the properties of a gas.
  • The original periodic table was based on relative atomic mass, this didn't quite work due to some elements that were in the wrong place. The discovery of atomic number solved this problem.
  • The symmetry of models. It is interesting that the thermal model fits so nicely with what we learnt in mechanics. This also is an example of how linear this subject is.
  • Good example of the way science works here as you develop the concept of hot and cold into the measurement of temperature
  • Models are developed to explain phenomena that we can’t see directly. The Kinetic model of a gas is used to explain the relationship between PV and T even though we can’t see the particles involved.
  • Correlations are important in science as is experimental verification


What went well
List the portions of the unit (content, assessment, planning) that were successful

What didn’t work well
List the portions of the unit (content, assessment, planning) that were not as successful as hoped

List any notes, suggestions, or considerations for the future teaching of this unit.

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