Teaching Thermodynamics with minimal math

  • #1
Thermodynamics is an interesting subject but all too often students think of it as solving math problems. And indeed most of the problem solving involves calculations which can be quite in-depth, requiring knowledge of calculus.

I have been looking for ways to deliver thermodynamics principles and knowledge in an applied manner, through explanations rather than falling back on math.

A good parallel is the subject of Aerodynamics : also a very mathematical subject, yet can be elegantly learned in applied fashion as in the textbook "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators", mostly through explanations with minimal use of equations.

Am wondering if there is a similar approach and texts for Thermodynamics ?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
1,656
921
If you omit too much of the math, you'll lose too much of the rigor and depth ##-## if all you want to do with thermodynamics is insulate your house reasonably well at a reasonable cost, you need moderate arithmetic, and maybe some algebra, and perhaps even some optimization theory, but you can get by without calculus; however, for such matters as electron cloud probability density variations at fluctuating temperatures, you'll need some higher math if you want to understand how one quantity affects another.
 
  • #3
Andy Resnick
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
7,496
2,058
I have been looking for ways to deliver thermodynamics principles and knowledge in an applied manner, through explanations rather than falling back on math.
Who is your target audience- to whom do you wish to teach this material? Also, what is the classroom context- a brief seminar, a full course, something else?
 
  • #4
ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
35,847
4,664
Thermodynamics is an interesting subject but all too often students think of it as solving math problems. And indeed most of the problem solving involves calculations which can be quite in-depth, requiring knowledge of calculus.

I have been looking for ways to deliver thermodynamics principles and knowledge in an applied manner, through explanations rather than falling back on math.

A good parallel is the subject of Aerodynamics : also a very mathematical subject, yet can be elegantly learned in applied fashion as in the textbook "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators", mostly through explanations with minimal use of equations.

Am wondering if there is a similar approach and texts for Thermodynamics ?
Let's not put the cart before the horse here. You need to explicitly state the goal or outcome of such a course!

The course that may have used "Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators" were NOT meant for someone who is majoring in aerodynamics. If it is, then we are in deep doo doo, because that person will NOT be able to quantitatively design and evaluate aerodynamical systems!

So who do you intend to teach this non-math Thermo course to? What are the course objectives here? If this is intended for ME or Phys. major, then this course may be a waste of time. If this is intended for "Naval Aviators", then that's different.

Zz.
 

Related Threads on Teaching Thermodynamics with minimal math

  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
Replies
16
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
13
Views
11K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
7K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
4K
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
8K
Replies
25
Views
16K
Top