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published by the Concord Consortium Inc.
written by Dan Damelin
content provider: the Rhode Island Information Technology Experiences for Students & Teachers
supported by 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.
See Related Materials for a Teacher's Guide developed specifically to accompany this resource.

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.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Modern Physics
- Atomic Physics
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Thermal Properties of Matter
= Temperature
= Thermal Expansion
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Instructor Guide/Manual
= Interactive Simulation
= Model
= Problem/Problem Set
= Tutorial
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- application/java
- application/pdf
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Limited free access
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© 2008 Concord Consortium
average kinetic energy, conduction, conductors, heat conduction, heat simulation, heat transfer simulation, interaction, kinetic energy, particles, photons, thermal radiation
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created May 23, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 21, 2020 by Bruce Mason
Other Collections:

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

11B. Models
  • 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.
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Record Link
AIP Format
D. Damelin, (Concord Consortium Inc., Concord, 2008), WWW Document, (
D. Damelin, Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature (Concord Consortium Inc., Concord, 2008), <>.
APA Format
Damelin, D. (2008). Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from Concord Consortium Inc.:
Chicago Format
Damelin, Dan. Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature. Concord: Concord Consortium Inc., 2008. (accessed 29 January 2023).
MLA Format
Damelin, Dan. Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature. Concord: Concord Consortium Inc., 2008. Rhode Island Information Technology Experiences for Students & Teachers, and National Science Foundation. 29 Jan. 2023 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Dan Damelin", Title = {Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature}, Publisher = {Concord Consortium Inc.}, Volume = {2023}, Number = {29 January 2023}, Year = {2008} }
Refer Export Format

%A Dan Damelin %T Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature %D 2008 %I Concord Consortium Inc. %C Concord %U %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Damelin, Dan %D 2008 %T Concord Consortium: Heat and Temperature %I Concord Consortium Inc. %V 2023 %N 29 January 2023 %9 application/java %U

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This is a Teacher's Guide developed by the same authors specifically to accompany the Heat and Temperature module.

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