In this experiment, students explore heat transfer through different materials and are introduced to thermal conductors and insulators through thought provoking phenomena.
Students first observe metal, wood, and Styrofoam and feel each material and describe the temperature. Based on this, students predict which material will have the highest and lowest temperature.
Students then measure the actual temperature of the materials (they have been sitting at room temperature) and are surprised to find that all three materials have the same temperature even though the metal felt the coldest to the touch. This blows some of the students away while others are convinced their thermometers are not working.
In the final part of the experiment, students predict which material will melt ice the fastest. They then try it out and measure the amount of water that has melted from each ice cube. Once again, this puzzles many students because metal will melt it the fastest even though it is the same temperature as the other materials (and felt cool to the touch)
After reading about thermal conductors and insulators, student explain why the ice melted the fastest on the metal.
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