Model of a solid using students
Practical Activity for 14-16
Apparatus and Materials
Health & Safety and Technical Notes
Some laboratories may not have sufficient space to do this safely but a school hall could be used.
- The students sit or stand in a regular array with arms stretched out to hold the shoulders of neighbours.
- They should start at
absolute zeroand they should be told to
warm upby vibrating to and fro.
- If the model is allowed to go to higher and higher
temperatures, the solid will eventually
meltas the crystal comes to pieces.
- If a model of a liquid is needed, students should stand close together with arms folded, moving about as a fluid crowd.
- There are occasions when the mood of a class makes this activity worth trying. If it can be done, it is useful because it is unforgettable!
- The full story of heating a solid is more complicated than the simple one of just making the amplitude grow as you warm up the model atoms, because there is a quantum restriction on the way in which energy is transferred. The energy of atoms is quantized. The restriction does not make itself felt in ordinary measurements, such as thermal capacity, at room temperature. However, at low temperatures the currency restrictions of quantum rules make themselves felt and specific heats drop to unexpectedly low values. This behaviour could not be explained on classical theory and itself helped to point to the quantum restrictions.
This experiment was safety-tested in August 2007