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Crash Course


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering

Regional Focus



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  • In this video, students will be introduced to the first and second laws of thermodynamics and see how heat can be used to power engines or do work.
  • The video discusses perpetual motion, entropy, and isovolumetric, isobaric, isothermal, and adiabatic processes.
Teaching Tips


  • Animations and mathematical equations are used to help explain concepts.
  • Important vocabulary words are defined on the screen.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should already have an understanding of work and heat.
  • The video covers a lot of information very quickly. Teachers will need to pause the video periodically and replay portions to aid in student understanding.


  • This video provides a way for students to see how advanced mathematical concepts like integral calculus are used in real-world applications.
  • Challenge students to identify ways the first and second laws of thermodynamics are related to climate change.
  • Consider pairing this resource with this video about heat pumps which connects the laws of thermodynamics to a potential climate change solution.
Scientist Notes
This video uses the first law of thermodynamics to explain how perpetual motion machines do not work. It also introduces the concept of entropy. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Mathematics
    • Algebra: Reasoning with Equations & Inequalities (9-12)
      • HSA.REI.B.3 Solve linear equations and inequalities in one variable, including equations with coefficients represented by letters.
    • Functions: Interpreting Functions (9-12)
      • HSF.IF.C.8 Write a function defined by an expression in different but equivalent forms to reveal and explain different properties of the function.
  • Science
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS-PS3-1. Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.
      • HS-PS3-2. Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
      • HS-PS3-4. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
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