• Views 66
  • Favorites
Photo by Denis Chick via Unsplash

Database Provider


Crash Course


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Videos, 10 minutes, 21 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



Ask a Question

  • This video helps students understand thermodynamics and heat transfers by introducing them to steam engines, Carnot engines, and refrigerators.
  • It also discusses how thermal energy is used to do work, engine efficiency, ideal engines, and the coefficient of performance.
Teaching Tips


  • This video is a great way to introduce students to how their skills in math and physics can be applied in the real world.
  • This resource explains the math behind concepts like efficiency and the coefficient of performance in simple terms.
  • By scrolling over the scroll bar at the bottom of the video, you can see at what point specific topics like the Carnot cycle or ideal efficiency are discussed.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video moves quickly between functions, graphs, and topics, so it may be best to pause and have students reflect after each topic.
  • This resource is intended for students who already have a foundation in physics and understand the laws of thermodynamics.


  • To connect this resource to climate change topics, have students consider what role the steam engine played in the development of societies and economies and the importance of this invention to the industrial revolution, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource extraction.
  • This resource can be used in math classes during lessons about writing, simplifying, and graphing functions.
  • The information about steam engines and refrigerants can be used by other science classes and social studies classes without focusing on the equations. Have students think about how engines and refrigerants changed our relationship with the Earth, amplified our ability to (literally) move mountains, and permanently colonize areas of the planet that would otherwise be uninhabitable.
Scientist Notes
The steam engine was one of the most consequential inventions in the history of humanity, as it completely revolutionized our entire way of life. In this episode of Crash Course, they explain how steam engines work and explain the Carnot cycle. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Mathematics
    • Algebraic Reasoning: Functions (8-12)
      • HS.AFN.A.2 Use function notation and interpret statements that use function notation in terms of the context and the relationship it describes.
  • Science
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS.PS3.1 Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.
      • HS.PS3.3 Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
      • HS.PS3.4 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
  • Related Resources


    Login to leave a review