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Heat Transfer Project Ideas

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Heat transfers between objects through conduction, convection, and radiation. These projects offer active opportunities for students to explore heat transfer.

Heat Transfer

Heat travels from higher temperatures to lower temperatures. The method in which it moves depends on the substances through which it is moving. Heat moves through solids through conduction because the faster warm molecules collide with the slower cool molecules. Convection works better with heat and gases as heat rises and circulates. Radiation travels through electromagnetic waves rather than matter. Heat is transferred through radiation when atoms absorb electrons from higher energy atoms. The projects in this asset enable students to demonstrate, differentiate, explain, and provide examples of each of these methods of heat transfer.

Comparing Conductors

Grade level: 3rd - 6th

Time: 1-2 days

Key Terms:

  • conductor
  • molecules
  • temperature

Guiding Questions

  • Which substances are the best conductors?
  • Why is it important to know which materials are good conductors?

Materials

  • cup of hot water
  • metal spoon
  • plastic spoon
  • wooden spoon
  • ceramic spoon
  • paper towels
  • computer/internet

Procedure

  • Divide students into pairs. Have students predict which of the four spoons is the best conductor of heat.
  • Have students research why some substances make better conductors than others. Provide students an opportunity to change their predictions.
  • Students will then place all four spoons in the cup of hot water at the same time. Students should be sure the spoons are not touching each other.
  • After several minutes, have students remove the spoons, dry them with a paper towel, and feel the temperature. Have students record their impressions.
  • Have students create an advertising flyer that describes the best spoon for cooking, mixing, or eating and why it has an advantage over other spoons based on how well each conducts heat.

Illustrating Convection

Grade level: 3rd - 8th

Time: 2-3 days

Key Terms:

  • circulation
  • convection

Guiding Questions

  • What happens during convection?
  • What are some examples of convection?

Materials

  • mug warmer
  • clear pan
  • food coloring
  • drawing paper
  • colored pencils

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