Physics Required Practical: Specific Heat Capacity


- The Method (In Blue)

- Common Mistakes (In Yellow)

- Safety Notes (In Pink)

  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 19-03-19 13:04
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  • Physics Required Practical: Specific Heat Capacity
    • 1. Choose your material, for example, a Copper or Aluminium block, and measure its mass, in kg.
      • 2. Wrap insulation around the material. Then smear petroleum jelly around the bulb end of the thermometer. Put the thermometer in the small hole in the block.
        • 3. Measure the starting temperature of the block.
          • 4. Put a heater in the larger hole of the block. Connect the ammeter, power pack and heater in series. Then connect the voltmeter across the power pack.
            • 5. Turn the power pack to 12 V and switch it on. Start the stopwatch as you turn on the power pack.
              • 6. Record the ammeter and voltmeter readings every 60 seconds. Also record the temperature of the metal block every 60 seconds.
                • 7. After 10 minutes, turn off the power pack. Keep the thermometer in the metal block for a while longer. Record the maximum temperature of the metal block, this may be a little while after you've turned off the power pack.
                  • 8. Calculate the power of the heater and record the values. Then calculate the energy transferred up to each time point. Use the equations: power = potential difference x current and; energy = power x time.
                    • 9. Plot the results on a graph, with temperature change on the y-axis and energy transferred on the x-axis.
    • Remember to measure the mass of the metal block.
      • The heating element should fit very snugly into the metal block, but there may be a small layer of air. Add a drop of water before you put the heating element in to improve transfer of energy between the heating element and metal block.
        • Be sure to heat the block for at least 10 minutes. Otherwise you won't be able to draw a graph with a good range of results.
          • Don't forget to calculate the gradient from the graph. This, and the mass of the block, will be needed to work out the specific heat capacity of your metals.
    • Wear eye protection at all times.
      • The heating element will get very hot. Take care not to burn yourself.
        • If any of the equipment is damaged, do not use it.
          • If you scald yourself with hot water, cool the burn under cold running water immediately.


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