the Concord Consortium Inc.
the Rhode Island Information Technology Experiences for Students & Teachers
the National Science Foundation
This inquiry-based module for grades 9-12 explores the difference between heat and temperature in an engaging interactive format that includes 12 computer models. Students learn that temperature is a measure of kinetic energy and heat is the transfer of energy from hot systems to cooler ones. The simulations help students visualize that temperature is related to both speed and mass of atoms. Three models promote understanding of average kinetic energy, and its dependence upon changes in heat.
This item is part of the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization dedicated to transforming education through technology. The Consortium develops deeply digital learning innovations for science, mathematics, and engineering. The models are all freely accessible. Users may register for additional free access to a Teacher's Guide and capability to capture data.
Please note that this resource requires
Java Applet Plug-in.
Editor's Note:The key concepts in this self-paced activity are scaffolded in a way to help students grasp the difference between heat and temperature and build a foundation for understanding how heat and kinetic energy are related. See Related Materials for a Teacher's Guide developed specifically to accompany this resource. The activity is appropriate for grades 8-9, but can also be adapted for preparatory physics courses and gifted/talented 7th graders. Allow two days in computer lab.
average kinetic energy, conduction, conductors, heat conduction, heat simulation, heat transfer simulation, interaction, kinetic energy, particles, photons, thermal radiation
Metadata instance created
May 23, 2011
by Caroline Hall
September 21, 2012
by Caroline Hall
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4E. Energy Transformations
6-8: 4E/M3. Thermal energy is transferred through a material by the collisions of atoms within the material. Over time, the thermal energy tends to spread out through a material and from one material to another if they are in contact. Thermal energy can also be transferred by means of currents in air, water, or other fluids. In addition, some thermal energy in all materials is transformed into light energy and radiated into the environment by electromagnetic waves; that light energy can be transformed back into thermal energy when the electromagnetic waves strike another material. As a result, a material tends to cool down unless some other form of energy is converted to thermal energy in the material.
9-12: 4E/H1. Although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
9-12: 4E/H2. In any system of atoms or molecules, the statistical odds are that the atoms or molecules will end up with less order than they originally had and that the thermal energy will be spread out more evenly. The amount of order in a system may stay the same or increase, but only if the surrounding environment becomes even less ordered. The total amount of order in the universe always tends to decrease.
9-12: 4E/H3. As energy spreads out, whether by conduction, convection, or radiation, the total amount of energy stays the same. However, since it is spread out, less can be done with it.
9-12: 4E/H7. Thermal energy in a system is associated with the disordered motions of its atoms or molecules. Gravitational energy is associated with the separation of mutually attracting masses. Electrical potential energy is associated with the separation of mutually attracting or repelling charges.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments
High School — Functions (9-12)
Interpreting Functions (9-12)
F-IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.?
F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Heat and Temperature Unit Title: The Relationship Between Heat and Temperature
This inquiry-based module explores the difference between heat and temperature in an engaging interactive format that includes 12 computer models. Students learn that temperature is a measure of kinetic energy and heat is the transfer of energy from hot systems to cooler ones. The simulations help students visualize that temperature is related to both speed and mass of atoms. Registered teacher-users also have access to a Teacher's Guide.
Damelin, Dan. Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature. Concord: Concord Consortium Inc., 2008. Rhode Island Information Technology Experiences for Students & Teachers, and National Science Foundation. 2 Aug. 2015 <http://workbench.concord.org/database/activities/308.html>.
%0 Electronic Source %A Damelin, Dan %D 2008 %T Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature %I Concord Consortium Inc. %V 2015 %N 2 August 2015 %9 application/java %U http://workbench.concord.org/database/activities/308.html
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