We argue that thermal physics should not be treated as a separate topic in introductory physics. The first-year calculus-based college physics should offer a modern, unified view of physics representative of the contemporary scientific enterprise. It should focus on the consequences of the central fact that matter is composed of atoms, and on the process of modeling physical systems. Such a focus is more interesting and relevant to students than a repetition of a purely classical treatment. We give an example of a course that emphasizes physical modeling of phenomena in terms of the atomic nature of matter. Thermal physics is woven into the entire course and is fully integrated with classical and semiclassical mechanics.


  • Education > General
  • Mathematics > General

Education Levels:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 9


NSDL,statistical mechanics,Undergraduate (Lower Division),Mathematics,Physics Education Research,General Physics,oai:nsdl.org:2200/20061003063206761T,kinetic theory,Curriculum Development,Higher Education,atoms,teaching,Chemistry,Physics,classical mechanics,educational courses,Education Practices,Course,Engineering,NSDL_SetSpec_439869,Vocational/Professional Development Education,Education,Technology



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