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Beginner's Guide to Propulsion

Air Temperature and Kinetic Energy Activity
If so instructed by your teacher, print out a worksheet page for these problems.


Before you begin:

  • After reading the text on Air Temperature and the Kinetic Theory of Gases, we are now going to do some mathematics using the kinetic energy formula, KE = mv2 / 2, where KE is the kinetic energy of the gas, m is the mass, and v is the velocity.

  • First, a short review of scientific notation (http://www.webmath.com/sn_convert.html). Scientific notation is often used when numbers are very large or very small. Its form is always a decimal number times a power of ten. [Note: For more information on scientific notation, click here (http://www.math.toronto.edu/mathnet/questionCorner/scinot.html).]

    Examples:
    3456789 = 3.456789 x 106
    123.4567 = 1.234567 x 102
    0.003456 = 3.456 x 10-3
    0.0000000065432 = 6.5432 x 10-9

  • Next, a brief explanation of how to find the mass of a gas is located at the Periodic Table-- (http://www.chemicalelements.com/show/mass.html). It lists all the elements and their atomic weights in a unit called the atomic mass unit. To convert this to kilograms, you must multiply by 1.66 x 10-27. This is the number of kilograms in one atomic mass unit.

    Example:
    The atomic weight of oxygen is 15.9994.
    15.9994 x 1.66 x 10-27 = 2.6559 x 10-26 kg. This is the mass of one atomic mass unit of oxygen.

For this activity you will need to perform similar calculations and then use your answers in the kinetic energy formula.  


ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

  1. What is the name of the branch of physics that studies the temperature of objects and the flow of heat between objects of different temperatures?
  2. Temperature is a scalar quantity with magnitude, but no direction. Can you think of something else we commonly measure that is also a scalar quantity?
  3. A gas is composed of a large number of molecules that are in __________, __________ motion.
  4. When the temperature is high, the molecules move _____________.
  5. What is the name of the device used to measure temperature?
  6. Temperature is really a measure of the average kinetic energy of a gas. What is the formula used for determining kinetic energy?
  7. Convert these two numbers to scientific notation: 456.2332 and 0.00002349.
  8. Find the mass of one atomic unit of each of the following five gases: Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Neon.
  9. Assume the average velocity of oxygen at room temperature is 480 meters per second. Using the kinetic energy formula along with your answer from question 8, calculate the kinetic energy for oxygen.
  10. Assume the average velocity of nitrogen at room temperature is 510 meters per second. Using the kinetic energy formula along with your answer from question 8, calculate the kinetic energy for nitrogen.
  11. Assume the average velocity of hydrogen at room temperature is 390 meters per second. Using the kinetic energy formula along with your answer from question 8, calculate the kinetic energy for hydrogen.
  12. Write a sentence or two summarizing what you learned from this activity.

Related Pages:
Standards
Worksheet
Propulsion Activity Index
Propulsion Index

 

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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, Jun 12 04:39:27 PM EDT 2014

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