Thermal Equilibration - Comparing Individual And Aggregate Levels Of A System - Preview

Thermal Equilibration - Comparing Individual And Aggregate Levels Of A System

Subject: Chemistry,Physics
Time: 45 minutes
Level: High School Chemistry or Physics

Lesson Overview

Students will use a NetLogo model to learn about thermal equilibration and develop skills with investigating a complex system as a whole, thinking in levels, and using computational models to understand a concept and test hypotheses.

Student Outcomes
Knowledge (Students will know that...)

  • Uncontrolled systems always evolve toward more stable states—that is, toward more uniform energy distribution. For example, two substances at different temperatures move to states of equal temperature.
  • On the microscopic level, particles are bumping into each other and exchanging kinetic energy. Energy is more commonly given from a higher energy particle to a lower energy particle, but it can also be given from a lower energy particle to a higher energy particle.

Skills (Students will be able to...)

  • Identify different levels of the system and articulate the behavior of the system at each level.

Epistemologies (Students will understand that...)

  • The nature of the individual and group (aggregate) levels of a system and the values and limitations of looking at either level.



  • Temperature is the average kinetic energy of molecules in a substance. Individual molecules don’t have temperature. It is an aggregate level measure.
  • Kinetic energy is proportional to particle speed.


The teacher will assess and give feedback based on the accuracy and clarity of student responses.


(Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rexraxon/8377471408)

Compatible With




chrome books




Next Generation Science Standards
Computational Thinking in STEM
  • Modeling and Simulation Practices
    • Using Computational Models to Understand a Concept
  • Systems Thinking Practices
    • Investigating a Complex System as a Whole
    • Thinking in Levels

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