Conduction Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Erin Noxon
Have you ever heard of conduction? In this lesson, we will define the term and look at examples of conduction in everyday life. You'll also learn about how heat moves through objects by way of conduction.

What Is Conduction?

Heat moves from place to place. We call that heat 'transfer.' There are three ways heat can move, or transfer, from one place to another, and one of those ways is called conduction. Conduction is when heat moves from one object to another object through direct touch. For instance, one piece of metal could conduct heat from another piece of metal if the two are touching. Conduction also refers to when heat moves between atoms and molecules that are touching (or that are very, very close to each other).

Understanding Conduction through Examples

There are two ways to understand heat moving by conduction. The first way to think about how conduction works is that heat moves from one thing to another by touching. If you touch a hot surface, your hand feels hotter because the heat moves from the surface into your hand. If you put a pot on an electric stove, like the coil stove in the image, the coils touch the pot and they heat the pot at that touching point. Remember, heat always moves from hotter objects to colder objects, so the heat moves from the hot coils on the stove straight into the bottom of the cooler pot.

Heat moves from the hot coils to the cooler pot.
Hot Pot on Stove

The second way to understand how conduction works is to understand that heat moves through an object itself. After the coils heat the bottom of the pot, the heat spreads through the whole pot, warming the sides of the pot, too. Many pot handles are plastic because, otherwise, heat would conduct up into the handle too and burn your hand!

Heat moves from the hot liquid to the metal spoon.
Metal spoon in hot liquid

Another example would be a metal spoon in a hot liquid, like in the image above. If you leave a metal spoon in a hot pot, the heat will conduct all the way through the spoon, and when you touch the spoon handle, it will be almost as hot as the liquid. This is why people usually use plastic or wooden spoons when they cook in the kitchen--plastics and woods don't conduct heat as well as metal does.

How Does the Heat Move?

In the example of the hot pot with the metal spoon above, how does the heat move through the spoon all the way to the tip? The answer has to do with what the spoon and what everything else you can touch and feel is made of: matter, which is made up of atoms.

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