# Teaching Thermodynamics with minimal math

• littlegreyw0lf
In summary, the conversation discusses the challenges of teaching thermodynamics, a highly mathematical subject, in an applied manner. The speaker expresses interest in finding alternative approaches and texts that focus more on explanations rather than math. They compare this to the subject of aerodynamics, which can also be learned in an applied fashion. However, the speaker raises questions about the target audience and course objectives for such a non-math thermo course.
littlegreyw0lf
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 ?

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.

littlegreyw0lf said:
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?

littlegreyw0lf said:
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.

## 1. What is the concept of thermodynamics?

Thermodynamics is the study of how energy is transferred and transformed into different forms, such as heat, work, or chemical potential. It also deals with the relationships between these forms of energy and their effect on matter.

## 2. Can thermodynamics be taught with minimal math?

Yes, it is possible to teach thermodynamics with minimal math by focusing on the conceptual understanding of the subject and using simplified equations and diagrams to explain the principles.

## 3. What are some real-life applications of thermodynamics?

Thermodynamics has many real-life applications, such as in the design of engines, refrigerators, and power plants. It also helps us understand weather patterns, chemical reactions, and biological processes.

## 4. Is it necessary to have a strong background in math to understand thermodynamics?

While a strong background in math can be helpful in understanding thermodynamics, it is not a requirement. By focusing on the concepts and using visual aids, anyone can grasp the basic principles of thermodynamics.

## 5. How can I make learning thermodynamics more engaging and interactive?

There are many ways to make learning thermodynamics more engaging and interactive, such as using hands-on experiments, demonstrations, and group activities. Additionally, incorporating real-life examples and applications can make the subject more relatable and interesting.

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