5 Engaging Ways to Teach Heating Curves and Phase Changes

Anjaney Kothari

Plotting heating curves is a highly useful means to understand how a substance behaves in response to temperature changes. This knowledge has diverse applications, ranging from improving cooking and food processing to elucidating geological processes like igneous rock formation. However, heating curves involve more than just phase changes and temperature. They require a knowledge of additional concepts like specific heat, latent heat, and pressure.

Educators must, therefore, devise engaging methods to teach all these aspects of heating curves and phase changes to their students. Here, we discuss five ways to teach your students about heating curves and phase changes that will help them understand.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

Interactive models are highly effective at engaging students with the subject matter. These models allow students to let scientific concepts marinate while using tactile experiences and visual imagination to learn those concepts.  

Take Labster’s heating curves and phase changes simulation, for example. Our simulation allows students to plot the heating curves for water and ethanol as they work in a virtual laboratory. It also engages students in interactive quizzes. These quizzes test the students’ knowledge of different sections of a heating curve and associated phase changes.

Place the beaker that contains ice on the heat plate.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Games and activities in education help repackage regular lectures as more lucrative and more approachable content. This generates curiosity and improves learning.

You can use some engaging games and activities to teach your students about heating curves and phase changes. For example, you can bring different substances like ice and camphor to demonstrate phase changes. Demonstrate how pressure can affect a substance’s phase diagram. Engage your students’ critical thinking skills by asking them to discuss how heating curves will differ for pure substances and mixtures.

3. Infuse Technology into Your Lessons

Technologies like virtual reality and simulation have transformed bookish knowledge into a digital museum. Here, students can take an informative stroll through modern depictions of age-old scientific principles.

Labster’s heating curves and phase changes simulation, for example, uses user-controlled animation that allows students to:

·       Perform phase change experiments in a virtual lab,

·       Plot the corresponding heating curves, and

·   Understand the difference between heating curves and phase diagrams.

Heating curve of ethanol in a virtual lab.
Discover Labster's heating curves and phase changes virtual lab today!

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

To most students, pursuing impactful careers is equally as important as learning new subjects and getting good grades. Educators can inspire their students to focus ardently on a study topic by discussing its role in building different careers.

Use career exploration as a method to inspire your students when discussing heating curves and phase changes in the classroom. Talk about how polymer scientists must understand the heating curves and phase changes of new materials to predict their limitations. Discuss how pharmacologists must heed the heating curves and phase changes of a drug formulation when determining its storage conditions. Shed some light on how geologists use these crucial concepts when studying the formation of igneous rocks from magma.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

“What impact can a two-dimensional graph possibly have on the real world?” – This question may plague the minds of many students who lack the motivation to pursue complex scientific topics. An important part of an educator’s job is to enlighten students about the real-world significance of what they are studying.

For example, tell your students how the preparation of desserts which involve processes like caramelization and tempering of chocolate can be improved with the knowledge of heating curves and phase changes. Discuss how the stability of medicine formulations depends on the phase changes and heating curves of the carrier solvent. Talk about the role of heating curves and phase changes in the processing of materials like plastics, ceramics and glass.

Final thoughts

Understanding phase changes and putting heating curves to use are both highly involved undertakings. Students’ grasp over these concepts will improve significantly if educators adopt some creative, engaging methods to teach them. The methods we have discussed here can help you teach heating curves and phase changes in an engaging way.

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