Thermal Physics is a course that I’ve been teaching every other year since coming to OU. This was a favorite of mine in undergrad (and grad school, where it was really just the Statistical Mechanics part). It always feels like a slightly disparate set of topics in this course, but it is so cool to see how the physics governing individual particles at the microscopic level can lead to macroscopic behavior that can be described and predicted by a seemingly unrelated set of rules.
In previous iterations I have based my class – notes and assignments – closely on the course as I was taught, by Gary Felder at Smith College. Why mess with perfection?
Well, of course this year I decided to mess with the course! I’m trying a new text – no more Schroeder. And I’ve decided to try to take this course to teach students how to read a technical document – their textbook. This involves creating “reading guides” for the students before each class, which seem to be a lot of work for me, and I have no idea if it will actually pay off. But I noticed that often students were reaching their senior year still unable to read a math or physics textbook and at the end of the day I’m always striving to prepare our students for graduate study and professional expectations.