Date __________ Lab Time ______ Name ___________________________
Students learn the value of careful laboratory techniques while determining the specific heat,C, of a solid such as copper, aluminum, or lead. The lab introduces the concept of specificheat and uses conservation of energy for determination of C.
Doesn’t it seem rather odd that on 90-degree days in June the local lake temperature is stillmany degrees cooler? While a complete explanation of this phenomenon is rather complicated, one important factor is the material (water) under consideration. Measurementsconfirm that for a given amount of matter, water does not experience as large a temperatureincrease for a given energy input, as other liquids (ethanol and acetone) and solids (copper,silver, and glass). A measure of this property of the material is called its specific heat.The lab experiment uses a concept (conservation of energy) that is discussed in a previousexercise in order to determine C. As a review, conservation of energy means that the energycontent of a particular isolated system is fixed. In other words, the energy of the isolatedsystem cannot be gained or lost to the “outside” world. In the lab experiment the “system” isthe combination of cool water and a hot object immersed in it. From your experience, coolwater “warms up” and a hot object “cools down” when the two come into contact.Eventually the two arrive at a common final temperature, and by conservation of energy, theenergy lost by the hot object is gained by the water. Now how do we get specific heat from conservation of energy? The amount of energy that anobject absorbs (or releases) depends on the following factors: the mass of the material, thetemperature change of the material, and the composition of the material, characterized by itsspecific heat. From these facts, a very simple equation follows:here Q is the energy (heat) absorbed or released, m is the mass of the material, C is the
tyrofoam cup, cardboard cover, electronic balance, 400
L beaker, hot plate, specimen,TmCQ
wspecific heat, and
T is the temperature change.
Q lost by the hot object to Qgained by the water and solving for C (solid) gives its specific heat, provided the other factors are known.
Swire hook, and thermometer