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Heat Transfer - the most boring topic ever?

Discussion in 'Science' started by lizz9999, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. Have just dragged myself and pupils through the Year 8 heat transfer section. Watching paint dry would seem like such an improvement on watching water cool down. I pride myself on my enthusiasm for all aspects of Physics and usually manage to, in turn, enthuse at least some of the pupils. However, I just don't seem to be able to summon any interest in this bit at all.

    Am I alone? Does everyone else find this topic fascinating? Anything more interesting than cooling curves, potasium permanganate and bubble wrap?
  2. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    At least it has paractical which is more than you can say for a lot of science these days.

    You could always make it a competition. Give them a selection of materials and see who can keep the tube warmest over 10 minutes.
  3. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    I hear your heat transfer but it fails with the potential of practical.
    I raise you drugs, alcohol and smoking - as school subjects that is.
  4. One of the easiest introductions to remote data logging with an easy to understand analysis of results.
    On a visit to NASA in Alabama (name dropping again!) we were asked to design a heat shield to protect a space capsule as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. We were given a range of materials (foil, drawing pins, wood + others which I can't remember). Our design was fastened to a metal plate using wax. The test was to apply a Bunsen burner flame to the front of it and see which lasted the longest. Not really heat transfer (because the best solution relies on ablation), but it could be attention grabbing while the data-logger does the "boring" stuff.
    Alternatively, put it in the context of saving the Japanese people who are survivng in freezing conditions following their Earthquake - how would YOU plan to keep them warm? HOW would you test your theory other than seeing who dies first?
  5. I really like heating and cooling - in year 10 it gets a bit dry as you do the same stuff again... It is a great topic for getting kids to think about heat transfer.
  6. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I use cooking questions.. Why do you need to stir baked beans but not peas in water? Why do bacon rashers cook faster than bacon joints? why do boiled potatoes cook faster if you cut them up small.
    I also save dry cleaning bags for making hot air balloons.
  7. I do like this idea. What do you use for the heat source - little tea light thing? Do they actually fly? Not that I do any dry cleaning - do cheap, thin, bin bags work?
  8. Love the space ship idea (had to look up ablation first. You would have to do these things after delivering all the three methods of heat transfer. Do you have time for that? Do you teach conduction, convection and radiation in a lesson each and then do the applying? I just feel the whole thing takes too long. I am considering giving them the basic facts on a handout, then you could launch straight into the excellent ideas suggested here. Anyone do that successfully?
  9. Fair comment, but then that's biology for you. Get through that lot and you still have to deal with plants. At least I get to go on to the origins of the universe.
  10. You can give the whole of the specification on handouts! You can provide a KS3 or KS4 Revision Guide for about £1 per year per pupil (I used to!) You can give them a textbook and tell them to read it. BUT is that TEACHING? Is it education?
    One year, the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures covered the whole of my Y10 & Y11 Olevel Physics syllabus in 5 programmes of 1 hour each - fantastic! Once you've established the major knowledge hooks, you can use interesting challenges to hang understanding on.
    When I started (1973), some groups "worked" through booklets for the entire year in Term1 (teacher demonstrated). Then they worked through a new, identical set in Term2 (pupil experiments) and, surprise surprise, another new set of sheets in Term3, where the teacher dictated the "right" answers. It was VERY successful in terms of exam results, but few went on to further study in Science.
    We all have to make decisions about our teaching style and philosophy. In the early stages of a career, there may be more imposition than in later years. I do not believe there is "one size fits all". However, if you approach a topic with "this is boring but we've got to do it", it is unlikely to be a fulfilling period for anyone (I know you wrote you try to use an enthusiatic manner).
    What about giving little groups a bit of conduction or convection etc to research and then demonstrate, using the equipment you have? Remember, it may be old hat to you, but it is new to each of them! They would be taking responsibility for the learning of others (as well as themselves) and that could contribute to a "good" lesson (possibly outstanding?).
  11. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    You need to weight the bottom with paper clips to keep it vertical. You need a Bunsen or a paint stripper or a decent powerful hair drier. It is quite difficult not to melt the palstic and it is best to practice first. Works well of you've got a decent height lab. Can be done outside if you've got a heavy duty extension lead. Tealights have far too low an energy emission/ mass ratio to be useful.
    I am intrigued by the new sky lanterns that can be purchased in novelty shops, but am very wary as I have heard of people being burnt by falling hot wax.

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