A Holistic Approach to Entropy in Science Education

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Yüksel Altun


Entropy is a concept with an extreme controversy which many scientists have been trying to explain. Some of the approaches employed in its definition contradict each other, which made it extremely difficult for high school and college students to understand. Boltzmann, was the first person who brought a statistical explanation to entropy and linking it with disorder concept (S = klnw). The point which received the highest amount of criticism is the similarity between the visual regulation  in everyday life and regulation of particles, which is the metaphor causes the highest number of mis-concepts. The major goal of this study is to go down the roots of the controversy surrounding the entropy concept and propose solutions. In the framework of all these difficulties, the concept was investigated with an integrated and simple approach. In this pretext, the macroscopic and microscopic features of entropy, the difficulties and misconceptions encountered, and the methods used in its education have been thoroughly examined. The final step was developing a “Tripod Approach” to facilitate the explanation of this complicated concept and fill the gaps in this area. In addition to it, alternative energy and probability-based and integrated entropy description, which reflects the essence of both macroscopic and microscopic approaches, was presented, and this description is expected to be a solution for the controversy resulting from disorder concept.
Key words: energy, entropy, unavailability, probability, tripod approach

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