Develop your learners’ metacognition with thermodynamics questions

This resource accompanies the article How to teach entropy at post-16 in Education in Chemistry, where you will find tips, common misconceptions and further ideas for delivering the topic. 

  • Composite image showing previews of the Spot the entropy errors student worksheet and PowerPoint slides

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    Spot the errors, for age range 16–18

    Challenge your post-16 learners to identify mistakes and correct the entropy calculations and explanations.

    Download the slides as MS PowerPoint or pdf, the student worksheet as MS Word or pdf and the teacher notes and answers as MS Word or pdf.

Learners often find thermodynamics difficult to grasp because of the abstract nature of the properties, such as entropy and enthalpy. Use this resource to help your learners develop their metacognitive skills and improve their understanding of the topic.

Learning objectives

  1. Identify misconceptions in entropy question responses.
  2. Explain why changes in entropy occur.
  3. Understand why some reactions are not feasible under standard conditions.

How to use this resource

Introduce the task by explaining that a group of learners have answered some entropy questions. Unfortunately, they are not entirely correct. Your learners need to identify and explain the mistake(s) and provide the corrections. The questions and error-ridden learner answers are available in the student worksheet. They are also included in a PowerPoint presentation to support a teacher-led activity, for example a whole class discussion.

This resource can be used as a standalone homework activity towards the end of the topic too. Alternatively, individual questions can be used during a lesson as formative assessment or to reinforce learning. The activity could also be set as a small group task, which would allow your learners to articulate their ideas about entropy to their peers and support each other with calculations. The mistakes, explanations and correct answers are provided in the teacher notes and can be given to your class if peer or self-assessing.

More resources

  • Display the Real-life contexts for thermodynamics and Born–Haber cycle infographics in your class. Use the accompanying worksheets and interactive Born–Haber toolkit with your 16–18 learners to practise calculations and drawing cycles.
  • Apply understanding of enthalpy change, structure and bonding with exam-style questions based on the Beirut explosion and ammonium nitrate in the Runaway reactions resource.
  • Show your class this video job profile of project leader, Stuart McDonald, and highlight the importance of chemistry in research and development.
  • Assess your learners’ understanding of key definitions, entropy, Gibbs free energy and more with the Thermodynamics starter for 10.