Experiment with Heat Transfer

10th May, 2011 - Posted by Sammie Gann - 1 Comment

Learn about heat transfer and how to keep things warm by testing the characteristics of different materials with this fun activity for kids. Some materials are good thermal conductors, easily letting heat pass through them, while others are good thermal insulators, not easily letting heat pass through them. Conduct experiments and watch how the temperature changes.

Record your results on a table and make your own conclusions, some materials help keep things warm while others make them go cold quick. Find out if metal, cardboard and polystyrene are good at thermal insulation or have good thermal conductivity by checking out this heat transfer activity.


* To understand that good thermal insulators keep cold objects cold and warm objects warm.

* To understand that metals are not good thermal insulators but wood and plastics are.


1. Ask the students what material is a good insulator.  Record all student responses on the board.

2. Show a cup of hot coffee or tea.  Ask the students to guess the temperature of the liquid.

3. Measure the temperature of the drink with a thermometer. Since the drink is warm, only the teacher should measure the temperature using the thermometer.

4. Ask the students what would happen to the drink if it were left out at room temperature for an hour. Start timing the students predictions using a clock or stopwatch and observe what happens to the temperature of the hot water.

* What would happen to its temperature?

* After an hour, check and see if the students predictions were correct.

5. Explain to the students that materials that stop heat loss are called thermal insulators.  As a class, play the Keeping Warm game together on an interactive whiteboard.

* Is there a way to keep the drink warm or at least slow down the cooling process?

* What material was the best thermal insulator?

* Which material was the worst thermal insulator?

1 Comment

Julie P. Smith

May 11th, 2011 at 2:26 pm    

Thanks for another great activity!

2nd Grade Teacher/Chair
Web Manager /Mentor Teacher
Clinical Education Supervisor

Oriole Beach Elementary School
Gulf Breeze, FL

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