Skip to main content
The Laws of Thermodynamics

The first segment in this unit looks at the laws of thermodynamics. The students examine heat-related phenomena of chemical thermodynamics using hot and cold packets, illustrating how thermodynamics work in the real world.

The first segment in this unit looks at the laws of thermodynamics. The students examine heat-related phenomena of chemical thermodynamics using hot and cold packets, illustrating how thermodynamics work in the real world.

Premiere Date: August 15, 2016 | Runtime: 00:17:02

Support Materials


Unit 8A Note Taking Guide & Segment Questions

Crosscutting Concepts

System and System Models

Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.

Energy and Matter

Flows, cycles, and conservation. Tracking fluxes of energy and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems’ possibilities and limitations.

Stability and Change

For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of study.

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Students at any grade level should be able to ask questions of each other about the texts they read, the features of the phenomena they observe, and the conclusions they draw from their models or scientific investigations. For engineering, they should ask questions to define the problem to be solved and to elicit ideas that lead to the constraints and specifications for its solution. (NRC Framework 2012, p. 56)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

The goal of science is the construction of theories that provide explanatory accounts of the world. A theory becomes accepted when it has multiple lines of empirical evidence and greater explanatory power of phenomena than previous theories.”(NRC Framework, 2012, p. 52)


absolute zero - the temperature at which all molecular motion stops and entropy is zero.

calorimetry - a method of measuring the quantity of heat transferred in a process. 

chemical thermodynamics - the study of energy changes that accompany chemical reactions or physical changes in the state of matter; also known as thermochemistry.

endothermic - describes a process that takes in or absorbs energy from its surroundings. 

enthalpy - a thermodynamic quantity equivalent to the total heat content of a system. 

entropy - the measurement of energy dispersal.

exothermic - describes a process that produces or gives off energy to its surroundings.

first law of thermondynamics - the amount of energy in the universe is a constant. Energy can be transferred from one substance to another or transformed into other forms of energy, but it cannot be created or destroyed.

heat - the transfer of energy from a warmer object to a cooler object; also known as thermal energy. 

joule - the SI unit of measure for energy, abbreviated J. 

second law of thermodynamics - energy always disperses from a more usable form of energy to a less usable form.

specific heat capacity - the heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of a substance by one degree Celcius.

surroundings - everything around the system, i.e. air, water, packaging, etc... 

system - the chemical reaction or physical process being monitored. 

temperature - a measurement of the average kinetic energy or molecular movement in an object or system. 

thermal conductivity - a measure of the ability of a material to transfer heat. 

third law of thermodynamics - the entropy of a system at absolute zero is zero. 

Georgia Standards of Excellence

SC2Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the chemical and physical properties of matter resulting from the ability of atoms to form bonds.

SC2.gDevelop a model to illustrate the release or absorption of energy (endothermic or exothermic) from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy.

SC3Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about how the Law of Conservation of Matter is used to determine chemical composition in compounds and chemical reactions.

SC3.bPlan and carry out investigations to determine that a new chemical has formed by identifying indicators of a chemical reaction (specifically precipitate formation, gas evolution, color change, water production, and changes in energy to the system should be investigated).

SPS7Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to explain transformations and flow of energy within a system.

SPS7.bPlan and carry out investigations to describe how molecular motion relates to thermal energy changes in terms of conduction, convection, and radiation.

SPS7.cAnalyze and interpret specific heat data to justify the selection of a material for a practical application (e.g., insulators and cooking vessels).

SPS7.dAnalyze and interpret data to explain the flow of energy during phase changes using heating/cooling curves.

S8P2Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the law of conservation of energy to develop arguments that energy can transform from one form to another within a system.

S8P2.dPlan and carry out investigations on the effects of heat transfer on molecular motion as it relates to the collision of atoms (conduction), through space (radiation), or in currents in a liquid or a gas (convection).

Request Teacher Toolkit

The Chemistry Matters teacher toolkit provides instructions and answer keys for labs, experiments, and assignments for all 12 units of study. GPB offers the teacher toolkit at no cost to Georgia educators. Complete and submit this form to request the teacher toolkit. You only need to submit this form one time to get materials for all 12 units of study.