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2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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Characterizing Student and Teacher Descriptions of Pressure*
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 9:30 AM -9:40 AM
  Author: Amy Robertson, University of Washington
  Co-Author(s): Peter S. Shaffer , Lillian C McDermott
  Abstract: A basic assumption of kinetic-molecular theory is that the pressure of a gas is generated by collisions of gas particles with the walls of the container. This assumption is often used to derive an expression that relates the pressure of a gas to the kinetic energy of the gas particles and ultimately connects the microscopic model for pressure to the ideal gas law. In a series of questions that were developed to elicit microscopic descriptions of pressure, student and teacher explanations revealed a variety of macroscopic and microscopic descriptions of pressure that had no obvious connection to collisions of gas particles with the container walls. Examples will be presented, together with a brief discussion of possible implications for instruction in physics and chemistry courses.
  Footnotes: *This work has been supported under a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
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