Term Project - Actual Projects
The following are some example term projects from prior semesters. Use these
to get a feel of what is required of your term project. Remember that these are
good but by no means perfect examples.
This is an investigation of "super cooling." When thermal energy is
extracted from water at 0 degrees C, the temperature doesn't usually
change. The lost energy simply causes some of the water to freeze. If the
energy is extracted very slowly and the whole system is carefully kept at
the same temperature, there is no asymmetry to "tell the water" which
molecules should freeze. So, instead of freezing the temperature drops
below the freezing point. When the "super cooled" water is disturbed,
freezing rapidly occurs.
Movie of rapid freezing (1.3 Mb) This is a clip from a video these
students made as part of their term project. This clip shows a test
tube of supercooled water that they prepared. In this movie they
rapidly insert a metal rod which disturbs the water, causing the water
to freeze very rapidly.
Compression Ratios in the Otto Cycle
Follow the link to see a presentation done by one of my students in class
(this is not the write-up that he handed in). His project explored how
engine efficiency depends on the compression ratio of the engine, as
predicted by our analysis of internal combustion engines in class. He did
this by machining a new head for his go-kart motor which would increase the
compression ratio of the engine. In the process he learned a lot of physics
and engineering, and also learned (and taught me) a lot about car engines.
This is a study of the vibrations of a guitar string using a model which
includes a non-linear dispersion. The results are compared to a real string
using parameters extracted using Fourier analysis.
This is a study of the thermal expansion of water. Using a large reservoir
and a narrow straw, they were able to "amplify" the effect such that very
precise measurements could be made. They were able to verify that water has
a density maximum a few degrees above freezing.
This is a different approach to the term project in which an aspect of the
course was studied in more depth theoretically. They do calculations using
the program "Maple" to investigate the effects of damping on a harmonic
oscillator. Note that the entire paper is a Maple workbook! (Maple is
what the Physics Department used to use before we switch to Mathematica.)
This student chose to write a java applet as part of his term project. The
applet, which demonstrates how entropy increases in a gas, can be seen by
following the link below:
Back to main Physics 123 (Section