A Simple Model for Teaching Upper Division Statistical Physics

  • Eric Kincanon Gonzaga Universtiy


Teaching upper division statistical physics can often be clouded by the theory and complex examples used. To better help students appreciate the fundamental statistical concepts and how they are connected to thermodynamic principles this paper suggests using a simple abstract model. Using Atkins’ Model students can see these ideas clearly connected and have a straightforward reference to help understand the behavior of more complicated cases.


Atkins, P.W. (1984). The Second Law (W.H. Freeman, New York).
Kincanon, E. (2013). How I Teach the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, Phys. Educ., 48, 491-496.
Mattis, D. (2003). Statistical Mechanics Made Simple (World Scientific, River Edge, NJ)
Nuffield Advanced Physics (1972). Physics: Students' book and Teacher's guide - Unit 9: Change and Chance (Penguin, Middlesex, England)
Reif, F. (1965). Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics (McGraw-Hill, New York).
Styer, D. (2000). Insight into Entropy Am. J. Phys., 68, 1090-1097.
How to Cite
KINCANON, Eric. A Simple Model for Teaching Upper Division Statistical Physics. European Journal of Physics Education, [S.l.], v. 13, n. 2, p. 1-9, june 2022. ISSN 1309-7202. Available at: <http://eu-journal.org/index.php/EJPE/article/view/330>. Date accessed: 30 sep. 2023.
Classroom Physics