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This set of images and video produced with infrared photography lets students "see" heat radiation.  Infrared is emitted by anything with a temperature -- even cold objects. The photographic technique is a way to visualize the transfer of energy from hotter to colder regions and build accurate concepts about radiant energy. Images depict a variety of objects: hot coffee, Old Faithful geyser, ice cubes, cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals, and hot springs.  

This resource is part of PBS Learning Media, a collection of thousands of classroom-ready, free digital resources compiled by researchers and experienced teachers to promote the use of digital learning.

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Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Technology
= Multimedia
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electromagnetic Radiation
= Electromagnetic Spectrum
- General
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Kinetic and Diffusive Processes
= Thermal Conductivity
- Thermal Properties of Matter
= Temperature
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
- Audio/Visual
= Image/Image Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2002 WGBH Educational Foundation, http://www.teachersdomain.org/terms_of_use.html
electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic spectrum, heat conduction, heat transfer, image set, infrared, infrared light, infrared photography, infrared photos, optics
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created June 12, 2009 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 19, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 28, 2009

Next Generation Science Standards

Energy (4-PS3)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (4)
  • Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. (4-PS3-2)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through sound, light, or electric currents. (4)
  • The term "heat" as used in everyday language refers both to thermal energy (the motion of atoms or molecules within a substance) and the transfer of that thermal energy from one object to another. In science, heat is used only for this second meaning; it refers to the energy transferred due to the temperature difference between two objects. (6-8)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • The amount of energy transfer needed to change the temperature of a matter sample by a given amount depends on the nature of the matter, the size of the sample, and the environment. (6-8)
  • Energy is spontaneously transferred out of hotter regions or objects and into colder ones. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects. (4-5)
  • Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion). (6-8)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information (K-12)
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to evaluating the merit and accuracy of ideas and methods. (3-5)
    • Obtain and combine information from books and other reliable media to explain phenomena. (3-4)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 3-5: 4E/E2b. When warmer things are put with cooler ones, heat is transferred from the warmer ones to the cooler ones.
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 6-8: 4E/M6. Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Nature and Behavior of Light
Unit Title: Electromagnetic Radiation and the Spectrum

All objects with a non-zero temperature will emit infrared radiation, but we cannot see it with our eyes.  This excellent collection of images produced with infrared photography allows students to "see" temperature differences and variations in heat intensity.  They will be looking at a hot cup of coffee, warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals, ice cubes, and hot springs. For an inquiry-based lab to extend this exploration, see "Science NetLinks: The Herschel Experiment" in Lesson Plans above.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Heat and Temperature
Unit Title: Teaching about Heat and Thermal Energy

All objects emit infrared radiation, but human eyes cannot see these wavelengths. Infrared is essentially heat radiation and is emitted by anything with a temperature. This tutorial, produced with infrared photography, lets students "see" infrared images of a cup of hot coffee, Old Faithful geyser, ice cubes, cold and warm-blooded animals, hot springs, and more.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2002), WWW Document, (https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.irgallery/infrared-gallery/).
PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2002), <https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.irgallery/infrared-gallery/>.
APA Format
PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery. (2009, March 28). Retrieved May 18, 2024, from WGBH Educational Foundation: https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.irgallery/infrared-gallery/
Chicago Format
WGBH Educational Foundation. PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, March 28, 2009. https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.irgallery/infrared-gallery/ (accessed 18 May 2024).
MLA Format
PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2002. 28 Mar. 2009. 18 May 2024 <https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.irgallery/infrared-gallery/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery}, Publisher = {WGBH Educational Foundation}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {18 May 2024}, Month = {March 28, 2009}, Year = {2002} }
Refer Export Format

%T PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery %D March 28, 2009 %I WGBH Educational Foundation %C Boston %U https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.irgallery/infrared-gallery/ %O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D March 28, 2009 %T PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery %I WGBH Educational Foundation %V 2024 %N 18 May 2024 %8 March 28, 2009 %9 application/flash %U https://oeta.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.irgallery/infrared-gallery/

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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PBS Learning Media: Infrared Gallery:

Covers the Same Topic As Science NetLinks: Sensing the Invisible: The Herschel Experiment

This is an inquiry-based lab for grades 6-9:  students replicate the historic 1800 experiment in which William Herschel "accidentally" discovered infrared light.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is By The Same Author and Covers a Similar Topic As PBS Learning Media: Astronomical Images in Different Wavelengths

A related set of images of celestial objects, taken with four different types of telescopes: radio, x-ray, infrared, and visible-light.

relation by Caroline Hall

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