Energy transfer

This section focusses on the ways in which thermal energy is transferred by the processes of conduction, convection and radiation. The concepts of specific heat capacity and latent heat may provide more challenges but are relatively straightforward to carry out experimentally.  Below are resources that provide guidance and experiments to help you.

Applying the formula for specific heat capacity gives them the chance to practise math skills of substitution and rearrangement of the equation.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.

Links and Resources

Thermal Conductivity

These two short videos demonstrate the difference in thermal conductivities of a plastic and aluminium.  Ice cubes are placed on a block of each material with the one on the aluminium melting rapidly compared to the one on the plastic. The demonstration will allow you to develop the idea that a material feels cold because it is a good conductor which is why aluminium feels colder to touch than plastic and why the ice then melts faster on the aluminium.

publication year
2010 to date

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Change of State

Students find it counter intuitive at first that you can heat a substance and its temperature will not rise. In the first video clip we see how heating a lump of lead does not result in temperature change whilst the lead melts. In the second video a Liebig condenser in a distillation apparatus is used to show how cooling water removes thermal energy from steam to change it back to water with the temperature remaining at 100oC throughout.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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