Students may have difficulties deciding which energy perspective (school-based vs everyday life) to use when answering questions

Energy and Thermal Physics


Resources to Address This

  • Two complementary descriptions (11-16)

    It is important to recognise from the very outset that this description of the action of fuels, in terms of energy and energy stores, is theoretical or abstract in nature. It doesn't belong to discussion in the everyday, or lived-in world. You can't look down a very powerful microscope to find the chemical store inside the petrol! We think it is helpful to make a clear distinction between the everyday description and the energy description.

    View Resource
  • Helpful language for energy talk (11-16)

    Some ways of talking about energy are clearer and more helpful than others.

    Using the energy stores and pathways provides a way to describe the 'energy story'. This is not the same as the description of observations or the 'physics story' that explains an event.

    View Resource


  • Meltzer, D. E. () Investigation of students’ reasoning regarding heat, work, and the first law of thermodynamics in an introductory calculus-based general physics course, American Journal of Physics, 72,


    doi: 10.1119/1.1789161.

    Paper digest

  • Geourgiou, H. and Sharma, M.D. () University students understanding of Thermal Physics in everyday contexts, International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 10,


    Paper digest

  • Thomas, P. L. and Schwenz, W. R. () College Physical Chemistry Students’ Conceptions of Equilibrium and Fundamental Thermodynamics, Journal of research in science teaching, 35, (10)


    Paper digest

  • Christensen, W.M., Melzer, D. E. and Ogilvie, C.A. () Students' ideas regarding entropy and the second law of thermodynamics in an introductory physics course, American Journal of Physics, 77,


    Paper digest

  • Loverude, M. E. () Student Understanding Of Gravitational Potential Energy And The Motion Of Bodies In A Gravitational Field, AIP Conference Proceedings, 790, (77) California State University Fullerton, American Institute of Physics.

    Paper digest

  • Trumper, R. () Children's energy concepts: a cross‐age study, International Journal of Science Education, 15, (2) Routledge,


    Paper digest

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