A 60 minute lesson in which students will investigate which materials are the best thermal conductors.
Prior to conducting the lesson, review the procedure and equipment required for the experiment. As hot water is required, teachers may choose to conduct the experiment as a whole class activity, rather than a small group activity. This could also depend on the availability of resources and the amount of adult support available.
This lesson contains a link to an external video. Please watch the video prior to presenting this lesson to ensure that the content is appropriate for your students.
What does it mean if a material is a conductor of heat?
Explain to the students that they are going to be conducting a science experiment to investigate whether metal, plastic or wood is the best conductor of heat.
Provide the students with a copy of the Science Experiment – Feel the Heat.Read through the first page of the experiment booklet as a class and check that the students understand the method. If the students are going to be conducting the experiment themselves in small groups, highlight the safety considerations involved with using hot water.
Remind the students that, when conducting experiments, scientists make predictions about what they think will happen. Support the students to record their prediction about which material will be the best conductor of heat and why.
Discuss the constants and variables for the experiment and allow the students to record these on their worksheet. Support the students to draw and label a diagram of how the experiment will be set up.
Allow the students to feel the handles of each spoon at room temperature, then record their observations in the results section of the experiment.
Monitor and support the students as they conduct the experiment in small groups. Alternatively, the experiment could be conducted as a whole class activity. When measuring the temperature of the water in each mug at the end of the three minute time period, ensure that the students wait for the thermometer to settle before recording the final temperature.
Encourage the students to independently answer the questions in the discussion section of the experiment booklet. Support them to also write a conclusion for the experiment, explaining whether or not their hypothesis was correct.
Allow the students to share their results from the experiment. Ask guiding questions, such as:
What did you discover about thermal conductors?
How might this information be useful for scientists?
Would it be a good idea to sit down on a metal chair that has been in the sun? Why or why not?
Collect the students’ experiment booklets. These could be included in a portfolio of work samples and used to assess the students’ understanding of the unit objectives.
Encourage more capable students to support less confident peers during the experiment.
Allow less confident students to be supported by more capable peers during the experiment.
Suggested Assessment Strategies
used strategic whole class or individual questioning
observed student participation during learning activities