Investigating Materials 2

In this worksheet, students will be challenged to think through the steps in carrying out an investigation into materials and their ability to conduct heat.

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Properties and Changes of Materials

Curriculum subtopic:   Testing Everyday Materials

Difficulty level:

QUESTION 1 of 10

Sean is about to carry out an investigation on materials.  He's interested in discovering which materials are good at conducting heat.

Can you help him to run his investigation?

Sean isn't sure how many materials he should test to find out which ones are good at conducting heat.

How many do you think would give him some useful information?

1

5

10

115

Next, Sean needs to find a way of getting his materials hotter but in a way that is safe to use.

He has three ideas - which one do you think would work best?

use a gas flame on the cooker

use boiling water

use hot water

Sean decided that a good way to test how well his materials conducted heat was to stick a pea to the end of each one with a lump of butter, like this:

Then he planned to put the other end into the bowl of water and time how long it took for the heat to travel up the material to the other end, melt the butter and make the pea fall off.

Sean collected together several items to do his test with. Which one does he NOT need?

materials to test

peas

weighing scales

butter

stopwatch

bowl of hot water

You remind Sean that if he is going to learn anything from his investigation he needs to make sure that his test is fair.

Tick any in this list that make sure Sean's test is fair.

use the same amount of butter each time

use the same material each time

use the same water temperature for each test

use materials of the same length

Sean tested the following materials:

• steel knife
• pencil
• plastic straw
• copper wire
• glass rod
• piece of string
• aluminium foil

Sean predicted that the pea on the steel knife would be the first one to fall off. What do you think? Predict which material you think the pea will fall off from first.

When Sean carried out his investigation he found that the peas didn't always fall off. For those that did, here is what he found out:

1. copper wire
2. steel knife
3. aluminium foil
4. glass rod

The butter did not melt on the string, the pencil or the plastic straw. What do you think that means?

the temperature was too cold to melt the butter

those materials didn't conduct enough heat to melt the butter

Sean stuck the pea on too hard

Here are the ones that Sean found did make the pea fall off, in the order of how quickly the butter melted:

1. copper wire
2. steel knife
3. aluminium foil
4. glass rod

Three of the four materials are made of the same sort of substance. What do you think that substance is?

metal

rock

plastic

What do you think that Sean learned from his investigation? Choose the best answer from this list:

that copper wire is a good conductor of heat

that metals conduct heat faster than non-metals

that glass is a bad conductor of heat

• Question 1

Sean isn't sure how many materials he should test to find out which ones are good at conducting heat.

How many do you think would give him some useful information?

10
EDDIE SAYS
In a scientific investigation the more information you can gather the more accurate your results will be. However, Sean doesn't have forever, so if he tested ten different materials that would give him a good idea of what sorts are good and bad conductors. One material alone will tell him almost nothing.
• Question 2

Next, Sean needs to find a way of getting his materials hotter but in a way that is safe to use.

He has three ideas - which one do you think would work best?

use hot water
EDDIE SAYS
Both the boiling water and the flame on the cooker are too dangerous to use in this test as there's a real danger of Sean burning himself. Hot water will give him the answers he needs without putting his safety at risk.
• Question 3

Sean decided that a good way to test how well his materials conducted heat was to stick a pea to the end of each one with a lump of butter, like this:

Then he planned to put the other end into the bowl of water and time how long it took for the heat to travel up the material to the other end, melt the butter and make the pea fall off.

Sean collected together several items to do his test with. Which one does he NOT need?

weighing scales
EDDIE SAYS
In his investigation Sean is not weighing anything, so he does not need the scales. He will be timing how long it takes for the pea to fall off, so he'll use the stopwatch to do that.
• Question 4

You remind Sean that if he is going to learn anything from his investigation he needs to make sure that his test is fair.

Tick any in this list that make sure Sean's test is fair.

use the same amount of butter each time
use the same water temperature for each test
use materials of the same length
EDDIE SAYS
Each material needs to be the same length as this is how far the heat travels and it needs to be the same for each one. If one had twice as much butter as another, it would take twice as long to melt - that's unfair. If one material had hotter water than another that would be unfair too.
• Question 5

Sean tested the following materials:

• steel knife
• pencil
• plastic straw
• copper wire
• glass rod
• piece of string
• aluminium foil

Sean predicted that the pea on the steel knife would be the first one to fall off. What do you think? Predict which material you think the pea will fall off from first.

steel knife
pencil
plastic straw
copper wire
glass rod
piece of string
aluminium foil
EDDIE SAYS
Remember, your prediction will be based on knowledge you already have about how quickly things get hot. At the start of the investigation you probably have very little idea about what is likely to get hot first, so any of these choices is valid (although Sean's investigation will show that only ONE is correct).
• Question 6

When Sean carried out his investigation he found that the peas didn't always fall off. For those that did, here is what he found out:

1. copper wire
2. steel knife
3. aluminium foil
4. glass rod

The butter did not melt on the string, the pencil or the plastic straw. What do you think that means?

those materials didn't conduct enough heat to melt the butter
EDDIE SAYS
In his test Sean found that string, pencil (wood) and the plastic straw never got hot enough to melt the butter. That's because they are bad conductors of heat and so it won't travel along the material to get the butter hot enough to melt. That's why the pea never fell off.
• Question 7

Here are the ones that Sean found did make the pea fall off, in the order of how quickly the butter melted:

1. copper wire
2. steel knife
3. aluminium foil
4. glass rod

Three of the four materials are made of the same sort of substance. What do you think that substance is?

metal
EDDIE SAYS
Copper, steel and aluminium are all types of metal, so they seem to conduct heat well.
• Question 8

What do you think that Sean learned from his investigation? Choose the best answer from this list:

that metals conduct heat faster than non-metals
EDDIE SAYS
Sean's general conclusion (his findings) is that metals (he tested copper, steel and aluminium) are better conductors than any of the non-metals. Copper wire was the best of the three, but he'd need to do more tests to be sure that this is right. He found that glass was not as bad a conductor of heat as string, plastic or wood.
---- OR ----

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