Using examples from Biology and Climate Science in a Physics classroom

What is this session about

Physics in the world around us

How do we see the broader relevance of Physics concepts to the world around us?

Connections within the sciences

Can we blur the boundaries between disciplines and see how interrelated these fields are?

Some key concepts in science

How do we convey ideas in climate science and biology that are becoming increasingly pertinent, to students at the school level?

What do we discuss in this session?

Here we focus on the theme of heat transfer to understand some interesting phenomena from biology and climate science.

  1. Understand why small animals cannot survive on land in very cold climates
  2. Physical processes that cause convection currents in oceans at the equatorial and polar regions (and how this is related to the sustenance of life in the oceans)
  3. Some simple to set up lab demonstrations of the processes discussed in point #2

00:00 – Introduction
06:23 – Some everyday examples from Mechanics and Electricity Magnetism
08:03 – Mechanisms of heat transfer
09:44 – Discussing conduction – a PhET simulation for diffusion and its relation to conduction
15:53 – A mathematical framework to describe conduction – the Heat Equation in 1D
22:52Small animals cannot survive in very cold climates”
24:22 – A mathematical model for heat transfer in a warm blooded animal
28:40 – Consider a small animal with a thick fur
35:33 – Calculate the size of the smallest animal that can survive in Antarctica
38:19 – Examples of convection in oceanography
39:06 – Vertical profile of ocean waters near the equator
42:00 – Mechanisms of mixing of hot and cold water (and circulation of nutrients)
44:48 – Demonstrating some climate phenomena in the lab

Other resources:

Weather in a Tank’ – demonstrations related to climate science from MIT