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Thermal Insulators Investigation

In this worksheet, students will apply their knowledge of materials to carrying out an investigation into thermal insulation.

'Thermal Insulators Investigation' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Properties and Changes of Materials

Curriculum subtopic:  Comparing and Grouping Properties of Materials

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

We choose materials for their PROPERTIES. Some materials allow heat to travel through them easily. These are called THERMAL CONDUCTORS.

 

Some materials, THERMAL INSULATORS, are chosen because they SLOW DOWN the movement of heat from a warm place to a cooler place.

 

Child in warm coat and scarf

 

Winter clothes slow down the loss of heat from our bodies (warm place) into the air around us (cooler place).

 

With that in mind let's get the investigation going!

Which best describes a thermal insulator? 

 

Choose ONE answer.

a radiator

a material which heat travels through easily

a material which slows down the movement of heat

a duvet

Colin and Katrina start their investigation with WHAT THEY ALREADY KNOW.

 

Which one of these describes how heat moves?

from a cool place to a warm place

downwards

from a warm place to a cool place

The students start with a question:

 

Which materials are good thermal insulators?

 

They collect their equipment;

plastic cups, newspaper, bubble wrap, cotton fabric, aluminium foil, fur fabric, warm water.

 

They will measure the TIME taken for the warm water to COOL from a cup that they have wrapped a different material around for each test.  That way they can see whether some materials slow down the loss of heat from the cup better than others.

 

 Have a think about how YOU would do this, and then say which TWO pieces of equipment are missing from the list above?

stop clock

ruler

thermometers

balance

Choose from the three answers below the best one to finish this sentence:

 

A fair test means......

everyone gets a go

all the factors are the same

only one factor changes

Which FOUR of the factors must they keep the same?

 

Tick four items from this list.

volume of water

the number of layers

the temperature of the water

the material the cups are made of

who pours the water

who measures the temperature

Katrina puts one layer of each material around a cup and secures it with sticky tape. They use hand-hot water. 

 

Which units do we use to measure temperature?

a thermometer

degrees centigrade

centimetres

kilograms

They pour the same amount of water into each cup. They measure the temperature of the water until it cools down.

 

What temperature will the water cool to? 

freezing

room temperature

20 degrees C

Katrina measures the temperature of the water in each cup at 10 minute intervals. She puts the results onto a graph as they carry out the investigation, so that they can 'see' which material keeps the water warm.

 

Which is the BEST kind of graph to use? 

pie chart

bar graph

line graph

scatter graph

Which measure must Katrina put on the vertical (Y axis) of the graph?

temperature

time in minutes

What will the line on the graph look like when the water reaches room temperature?

flat

wavy

keep going down

Colin and Katrina discover that the water in the cups insulated with fur fabric and bubble wrap take the longest to cool.

 

Colin says: "If we did the experiment again using ice cubes, they would heat up quickest if wrapped in bubble wrap or fur fabric."

Katrina says: "I think they would heat up the slowest because the bubble wrap or fur fabric would keep them cold."

 

Which scientist do you think is correct? 

Colin

Katrina

  • Question 1

Which best describes a thermal insulator? 

 

Choose ONE answer.

CORRECT ANSWER
a material which slows down the movement of heat
EDDIE SAYS
A duvet is an EXAMPLE of an object made using thermal insulation, which SLOWS DOWN the movement of heat. You want your duvet to keep you warm, so duvets are made of materials that slow down the loss of heat.
  • Question 2

Colin and Katrina start their investigation with WHAT THEY ALREADY KNOW.

 

Which one of these describes how heat moves?

CORRECT ANSWER
from a warm place to a cool place
EDDIE SAYS
You'll learn that there are Laws of Thermodynamics - sounds scary! It's simply about how heat moves from one place to another. Basically, it always flows from whatever's hotter to whatever's cooler - if you leave your spoon in your mug of hot chocolate and then lift it out after a minute, the spoon is really hot! That's because the heat in the drink was transferred to the cooler air in the room along the metal spoon.
  • Question 3

The students start with a question:

 

Which materials are good thermal insulators?

 

They collect their equipment;

plastic cups, newspaper, bubble wrap, cotton fabric, aluminium foil, fur fabric, warm water.

 

They will measure the TIME taken for the warm water to COOL from a cup that they have wrapped a different material around for each test.  That way they can see whether some materials slow down the loss of heat from the cup better than others.

 

 Have a think about how YOU would do this, and then say which TWO pieces of equipment are missing from the list above?

CORRECT ANSWER
stop clock
thermometers
EDDIE SAYS
Colin and Katrina will need to measure the time and the temperature. So without a stopclock or watch, they'll struggle to get an accurate measure of time and dipping their finger into the water is not only NOT going to tell them the temperature, it'll probably hurt! A thermometer is the answer.
  • Question 4

Choose from the three answers below the best one to finish this sentence:

 

A fair test means......

CORRECT ANSWER
only one factor changes
EDDIE SAYS
To keep the test fair, only one factor is changed. If you change two things, and there's a difference in the results, you won't know which of the two things caused that change. So, one change only at a time.
  • Question 5

Which FOUR of the factors must they keep the same?

 

Tick four items from this list.

CORRECT ANSWER
volume of water
the number of layers
the temperature of the water
the material the cups are made of
EDDIE SAYS
The factor the students are investigating is how different materials, which have different properties, affect heat movement. So they must keep everything the same except the material they are wrapping around the cup. Same volume of water, same starting temperature, same type of cup, same number of layers of the insulating material.
  • Question 6

Katrina puts one layer of each material around a cup and secures it with sticky tape. They use hand-hot water. 

 

Which units do we use to measure temperature?

CORRECT ANSWER
degrees centigrade
EDDIE SAYS
Degrees centrigrade (or degrees celsius) is the unit we use to measure temperature (usually abbrevited to °C). The thermometer is the instrument for measuring the temp, cm is a measure of length and kg a unit of mass.
  • Question 7

They pour the same amount of water into each cup. They measure the temperature of the water until it cools down.

 

What temperature will the water cool to? 

CORRECT ANSWER
room temperature
EDDIE SAYS
The temperature of objects in a room is the same as the air temperature, which is called room temperature. This may, or may not, be about 20 degrees centigrade!
  • Question 8

Katrina measures the temperature of the water in each cup at 10 minute intervals. She puts the results onto a graph as they carry out the investigation, so that they can 'see' which material keeps the water warm.

 

Which is the BEST kind of graph to use? 

CORRECT ANSWER
line graph
EDDIE SAYS
A line graph will show how slowly or quickly the water is cooling. The line gives you a much clearer visual picture of what the temperature change has been like (fast or slow compared to the others).
  • Question 9

Which measure must Katrina put on the vertical (Y axis) of the graph?

CORRECT ANSWER
temperature
EDDIE SAYS
The DEPENDENT VARIABLE, or factor, which changes is always plotted on the Y axis. The temperature is being affected by the material the scientists used, so it DEPENDS on which material is wrapped around the cup. Got it?
  • Question 10

What will the line on the graph look like when the water reaches room temperature?

CORRECT ANSWER
flat
EDDIE SAYS
The line on the graph will flatten at room temperature. Before that it will have been going down, but once it reaches room temp, it stays the same (flat line, on the graph).
  • Question 11

Colin and Katrina discover that the water in the cups insulated with fur fabric and bubble wrap take the longest to cool.

 

Colin says: "If we did the experiment again using ice cubes, they would heat up quickest if wrapped in bubble wrap or fur fabric."

Katrina says: "I think they would heat up the slowest because the bubble wrap or fur fabric would keep them cold."

 

Which scientist do you think is correct? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Katrina
EDDIE SAYS
Insulating materials slow the movement of heat from a WARM place (the air in the room) to a COOL place (the ice in the cup). So Katrina has applied the science they have learned from their experiment to this new investigation - she has made a prediction based on what they have found out. Thermal insulators keep warm things warm AND cool things cool! That's why your cool box to take on a summer's picnic has a layer of insulation inside it - to keep your drinks and food cool.
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