Day 36: Entropy Activity

Today, as AP Physics 2 starts our last week of thermodynamics, we tried a new activity that I learned at this summer’s AP Physics 2 Summer Institute. I’ve mentioned statistical mechanics a few times throughout our exploration of thermodynamics and wanted to provide students some insight into this area of physics and a different perspective on the concept of entropy. So, we modeled the diffusion of a two-gas system with dice. Each group started with 2 sets of dice of different colors. The initial state was all of one color on one side and all of the other color on the other side. They rolled the dice. A die is moved to the other side if it is a “1”. After each roll, they count the number of nice of each color on each side and record the data in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet calculates the number of microstates for the particular macrostate and the entropy. After class, I aggregated all of the data from all of the groups. We’ll discuss the aggregated results tomorrow. Thinking of entropy as a way to quantify the probability of a state occurring is a powerful perspective.