`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.

• Supercooling.pdf
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.

• guitar.pdf
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.

• thermalexpansion.pdf
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.

• oscillator.pdf
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.)

• entropy.pdf
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:
entropy applet

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