Discussion in 'Primary' started by taspat, Jan 3, 2011.

1. ### taspat

Hi, Im a Primary PGCE student and I'm going to be teaching year 4 the qca module keeping warm. I desperately need some advice. The first lesson I'm going to teach is on how to keep the snowman from melting (using ice) - so keeping cold and the second will be how to keep the bottle of water warm for my tea (using hot tap water) - so keeping warm.
I'm worried that I have not fully understood the science behind it and I don't want to explain it incorrectly to the children. I understand that the thermal insulator keeps cold things cold and warm things warm and I understand that this term will need to be used in both lessons. However, what is the difference between the term insulator and thermal insulator and am I right to use thermal insulator with the children?
I read in a science subject knowledge book (there's not much on this topic in there) that the thermal insulator prevents transfer of heat between objects. Now if i explain this to the children they will probably say that the ice is cold so how can it give out heat. I have no idea how I would respond to this, probably because I don't think I understand this myself! Could anybody please help me understand this?
Thank you in advance

2. ### taspat

Hi, Im a Primary PGCE student and I'm going to be teaching year 4 the qca module keeping warm. I desperately need some advice. The first lesson I'm going to teach is on how to keep the snowman from melting (using ice) - so keeping cold and the second will be how to keep the bottle of water warm for my tea (using hot tap water) - so keeping warm.
I'm worried that I have not fully understood the science behind it and I don't want to explain it incorrectly to the children. I understand that the thermal insulator keeps cold things cold and warm things warm and I understand that this term will need to be used in both lessons. However, what is the difference between the term insulator and thermal insulator and am I right to use thermal insulator with the children?
I read in a science subject knowledge book (there's not much on this topic in there) that the thermal insulator prevents transfer of heat between objects. Now if i explain this to the children they will probably say that the ice is cold so how can it give out heat. I have no idea how I would respond to this, probably because I don't think I understand this myself! Could anybody please help me understand this?
Thank you in advance

3. ### anon63

I'd use the term 'insulator' as it is less confusing than 'thermal' insulator which people think means keeping stuff warm. An insulator stops temperature transeference NOT heat transference. So if something is cold it stops the temperature from surrounding things going down and same for heat. The children always think that tin foil will be a better insulator than cotton wool because they think of 'keeping warm' - for example wrapping hot from the oven things in foil. So its a good idea to compare the two. Might also be good to see if something that insulates an ice cube well is also the best insulator for keeping a hot drink warm.

4. ### virgilsgirl

An insulator stops temperature transeference NOT heat transference.
As I understand it a thermal insulator does stop heat transference, but it stops heat travellling in either direction, so in the example above an insulator would stop the ice cube melting because heat cannot travel from the surrounding area, and would stop the drink cooling because heat cannot travel from the cup outwards.

5. ### nomadStar commenter

Rubbish.
A thermal insulator prevents heat from moving from one place to another. There are three main ways that heat can travel: convection, conduction, and radiation. Typically the term 'thermal insulator' refers to a material that blocks conduction. Temperature is just a measure of heat.
And yes, I would use the term "thermal insulator" as, in later years, ther term 'insulator' will also be used for electrical insulation too.

6. ### nomadStar commenter

Quite correct.

7. ### kildonan

You might want to start with the above to see what the children think. Most of them think that the coat will keep the snowman warm. The coat acts as an insulator (and I would use the term thermal insulator and define it) and stops the heat on a warmer day travelling to the snow of the snowman to melt it!
It's also good to use a vacuum flask to show that this keeps hot things hot (and cold things cold) because the insulation stops heat travelling out (or in).
A thermal conductor allows heat to travel.
The sites below might be of help too.

http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/science/files/science4c.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/scienceclips/ages/8_9/keeping_warm.shtml

http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/education/information-for-schools/good-practice/curriculum/science/primary/vocabulary/key-stage-2/year-4-word-mats

8. ### T34Lead commenter

You are to be trying to introduce two ideas at once.
The two ideas inherent in your post are
1) No heat transfer occurs between two substances at the same temperature.
(Your snowman will not lose heat to ice. Your hot bottle will not lose heat to hot water).

And
2)
An insulating substance (thermal insulator if you want to be precise)
decreases passage of heat from a hot area to a colder area.
My advice would be to get yourself quite clear about these two ideas and deal with only one of these ideas at a time.