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Heat Transfer Science Activities

Need some ideas for teaching heat transfer?   There are lot’s of hands-on ways to teach convection, radiation and conduction!

The Dancing Quarter: Convection Experiment
Materials:
   glass (empty) soda bottles
   oil
   quarters
   hot water

   bowl

Step 1: Have students put a dab of oil on side of the quarter.  You may need to help if it i

s a large container of oil. 
Step 2: Place the glass bottle into the bowl.
Step 3: Have the student place the quarter on top of the glass soda bottle, with the oil side facing down. (The oil acts as a sealant and keeps the air trapped inside the bottle).
Step 4: Tell the students to observe the quarter while you pour hot water (near boiling) into the bowl. 
The quarter should move around on top of the bottle.  This is best used as inquiry! I asked my students questions like: What do you see the quarter doing? How is that happening? Explain what heat process is taking place? I also like to extend and ask if any heat transfer process are taking place, other than convection.  Help them discover that conduction is also being used in this experiment.
Teacher Tip:  This experiment was originally called “The Dancing Penny” when I found it. I quickly discovered the most soda bottles had to big of an opening and pennies would just fall inside the bottle.  So I recommend using a quarter.  Also the initial experiment asks students to warm up the bottle with their hands.  This doesn’t give as obvious of a result so I adapted and chose to use hot water in the bowl so that students could see results immediately. I also highly recommend that you test this out on your own before you do it in the class so that you know how to make it work!
This is a great hands-on experiment that show convection currents.  Great for heat transfer and for weather lessons.  Available with follow up pages in my Heat Transfer Unit, Heat Transfer Complete Unit

Here is another way to see how heat rises.  Attach paper towel strips to a heated oven and then open the oven door. 

In the classroom this can be done with a toaster oven. 

Popcorn Experiment for Radiation

Materials:
   Popcorn (Unpopped)
   Microwave
   Individual cups for each student (solo cups)
This experiment is very simple! Place the popcorn in the microwave and ask them to observe and collaborate with one another to decide what heat transfer process is taking place. Its a simple way to show everyday use of radiation and gives them a tasty treat!

The Ice Melt: Conduction Experiment

Materials:
   Ice cubes (one for each student)
   Ziploc bags
Step 1: Have each student take a Ziploc bag and an ice cube. Ask them to put he ice in their bag and seal it tightly.
Step 2: Tell the students that the objective is to melt their ice cube as fast as they can.  They are only allowed to use their body as a heat source, nothing more. On your mark, get set, GO!
Step 3:  After someone has melted their ice completely, discuss why their ice melted faster than everyone else’s. What method did they use? How did that create more heat?  What heat process was everyone using in order to melt their ice?

The kids love this mini competition and are very engaged! Great way to show them a simple form of conduction!
Before we did all these centers, we had students create a simple three flap foldable that had the definitions of conduction, convection and radiation so they could refer to them during the experiments.  We also had them write their findings and examples of each heat transfer on the other side of the flaps. At the end, they glued it into their interactive science notebooks!

Hopefully this information was useful! These centers are pretty easy to prepare but they are very engaging for students! Thats a win in any teacher’s world! Thanks for reading!

For more activities and all the followup pages and interactive notebook folds see my complete unit.

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My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.

 
Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer

Heidi J

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:45:49-07:00

Heidi J

My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.   Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer
I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!

 
Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit

Tina S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:05:39-06:00

Tina S

I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!   Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit
The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!

 
Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2

Richard S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:07:52-06:00

Richard S

The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!   Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2
As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.

 
Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4

Sharon M

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:24:44-06:00

Sharon M

As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.   Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4
Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.

 
Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning

Expedition Fourth

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:44:55-07:00

Expedition Fourth

Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.   Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning
5
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Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams