Heat #15

(grades 8-12)
Soft-bound, 56 page book, 20 reproducible task cards, full teaching notes.

Book Cover: Enlarge

sample book cover

Sample Activity: View

Study heat in all its forms, conducting through solids, convecting through fluids, and radiating through space. Experiment with heat absorbers and emitters; cooling curves that reveal the best insulators and conductors; the greenhouse effect in a glass jar. Discover that mass and temperature both matter when computing calories.

Download a preview of this book.

And click any tab below to learn MORE about this book.

Heat E-Book

Downloadable PDF (4.1MB)

Save money and time by downloading this title and printing out only the pages you need.


  • free activity
  • book content
  • get materials
  • teaching tips
  • objectives
  • standards

Table of Contents for #15 Heat:

Preparation and Support

A TOPS Model for Effective Science Teaching • Getting Ready • Gathering Materials • Sequencing Task Cards • Gaining a Whole Perspective• Long Range Objectives • Review/Test Questions

Activities and Lesson Notes

  1. 1. Hot Wire
  2. 2. Heat Race
  3. 3. Conductors / Insulators
  4. 4. Cold Finger
  5. 5. Rise and Fall
  6. 6. Convection Machine
  7. 7. Too Hot to Handle?
  8. 8. Paper Cooking Pot
  9. 9. Radiation
  10. 10. Reflection / Absorption
  11. 11. Best Emitter?
  12. 12. Best Absorber?
  13. 13. The Greenhouse Effect
  14. 14. Hold That Heat

  16. 15. Cold Hands
  17. 16. Water Mix (1)
  18. 17. Water Mix (2)
  19. 18. Heat Capacity (1)
  20. 19. Heat Capacity (2)
  21. 20. Peanut Power

Supplementary Pages

graph paper


Complete Master List for #15 Heat:

Key: (1st/2nd/3rd) denote needed quantities: (1st) enough for 1 student doing all activities; (2nd) enough for 30 students working in self-paced pairs; (3rd) enough for 30 students working in pairs on the same lesson. Starred* items may be purchased below.

  1. * 1/1/1: four-inch lengths of aluminum, copper and steel wire with equal diameters
  2. 1/5/10: wire cutters
  3. * 1/10/10: candles with drip catchers
  4. 1/10/10: books of matches
  5. * 1/10/10: glass microscope slides
  6. 1/10/10: scissors
  7. 3/20/30: thin, recyclable, aluminum pie tins
  8. 1/2/2: trays of ice cubes
  9. 1/10/10: plastic sandwich bags
  10. * 1/2/2: rolls masking tape

  11. * 1/1/1: dropper bottle of blue food coloring
  12. 1/1/1: source of hot and cold tap water
  13. 1/10/10: gas burners (alcohol lamps), needed in one lab to heat metal red hot
  14. 2/10/20: pint jars
  15. * 3/20/30: baby food jars
  16. 2/20/20: index cards
  17. * 1/1/1: spool of thread
  18. * 3/30/30: test tubes
  19. * 1/1/1: box steel wool
  20. * 1/1/1: box paper clips

  21. * 2/20/20: clothespins
  22. 1/10/10: toothpicks
  23. 2/10/20: tin can tops, about 15 ounce size
  24. 1/5/10: tin cans, about 15 ounce size
  25. 2/10/20: pennies
  26. * 1/1/1: roll aluminum foil
  27. * 1/2/2: rolls clear tape
  28. * 1/10/10: laboratory thermometers
  29. 1/3/3: sheets black paper
  30. 1/1/1: teapot of hot water

  31. 3/30/30: corks to fit test tubes (lumps of oil-based clay)
  32. 1/1/1: jar of sand
  33. * 1/10/10: graduated cylinders, 100 mL capacity
  34. 2/20/20: small styrofoam cups, 150 mL minimum capacity
  35. 1/5/10: large plastic milk jugs
  36. 1/5/10: graduated cylinders, 1000 mL capacity (substitute quart or liter jars with 500 mL and 1000 mL levels clearly marked)
  37. 1/10/10: hand calculators
  38. 0.1/0.3/0.8: kilograms of washers, bolts or other small iron objects
  39. * 1/5/10: gram balances
  40. 1/1/1: small container of flour

  41. 1/1/1: bag roasted peanuts
  42. * 1/10/10: straight pins

Convenient Shopping:

Aluminum Foil

regular strength, 20 square feet x 12 inches rolls

Buy aluminum foil here as a convenience item, or for less in many grocery stores.

Baby Food Jars - assorted

without lids

Each set includes 4 small, 4 medium and 4 large glass jars.

Candles - emergency

cylindrical, 5 inches by about 3/4 inches diameter

Also called utility candles. A handy heating source. Correctly sized for #09 Floating and Sinking. Drip catchers not included.


wooden, spring-action

These are handy lab items to keep in stock. We use them as bulb holders, tongs, clips, and more.

Food Coloring - blue

liquid, dispensed in 1 fl. oz. squeeze bottle

A handy science supply used to make water more visible. Used in #39 Corn and Beans, #41 Planets and Stars, and several other TOPS modules.

Graduated Cylinder - 100 mL

shatter resistant plastic on stable base

An important lab inquiry tool for measuring larger liquid volumes.

Gram Pocket Scale

digital, pocket size

Digitally weighs up to 500 grams, plus tare container. Sensitive to 0.1 gram in multiple weight units. Durable, but not childproof. Comes with two AAA batteries to get you started.

Microscope Slides

glass, standard size

Used in #17 Light for diffraction experiments. For viewing microscope specimens, consider cutting slides, almost for free, from clear plastic bakery cartons. Smooth any sharp edges with sandpaper or an emery board.

Paper Clips

size #1, steel, box of 100

Paper clips have 1001 uses in TOPS experiments, and science in general. Feel free to use paper clips you already have, but be aware that different brands come in different sizes and weights. In experiments where uniformity is important, don't mix brands.

Steel Wool

fine grade, unsoaped

A handy lab supply, for studying electricity. Each pad is about the size of a classic Shredded Wheat biscuit. Used in #11 Oxidation and #32 Electricity.

Straight Pins

steel, one and 1/16 inch long

Used in many TOPS experiments. Sometimes required for their magnetic properties. Don't purchase aluminum straight pins by mistake.

Tape - clear

3/4 inch x 1000 inch roll

Your standard desk tape with matte write-on surface.

Tape - masking

3/4 inch x 55 yd roll

A handy science supply used in most TOPS modules.

Test Tube - medium disposable

19 mL capacity, 16 mm OD, 5 inch (125 mm) length

A lighter weight rimless Pyrex test tube made with thinner glass.

Test Tube - medium reusable

14 mL capacity, 15 mm OD, 5 inch (125 mm) length

A tough Pyrex test tube made with rim and thicker glass. Has a white spot for labeling.


red alcohol, calibrated in °F and °C

A compact protective aluminum back-scale makes this item more visible, less fragile, and less prone to roll off lab tables than traditional lab thermometers. Used in #14 Kinetic Model and #15 Heat. Works in all TOPS experiments requiring temperature measurement, except one.


light duty, 25 yd spool

Just plain old thread. Used in many TOPS titles, especially in Pendulums #34.

Wire - set of 3

15 cm each of aluminum, copper and steel

All three wires have equal 20 gauge thickness (same as a paper clip), and equal lengths (6 inches). This is a specialty item for #15 Heat.

Teaching Tips for #15 Heat:

SAFETY ADVISORY: The final task card involves burning peanuts to calculate calories. Be sure you don't have students with peanut allergy before introducing this item into your room. Small traces of peanut byproducts in the air can trigger serious, even life-threatening, reactions in susceptible students. Skip this lab if necessary, or find another burnable treat with calorie information printed on the package.

We encourage improvisation - it's one of the main goals of our hands-on approach! You and your students might invent a simpler, sturdier or more accurate system; might ask a better question; might design a better extension. Hooray for ingenuity! When this occurs, we'd love to hear about it and share it with other educators. Please send ideas and photos to tops@canby.com.

Lesson by Lesson Objectives for #15 Heat:

  1. Lesson 1: To trace heat flow through a wire. To understand how atoms in the wire interact to conduct heat.
  2. Lesson 2: To discover that some metals conduct heat more rapidly than others. To understand how electrons interact in wire to conduct heat.
  3. Lesson 3: To contrast the heat conduction properties of a conductor with an insulator.
  4. Lesson 4: To observe the heat flows from higher-temperature objects to lower-temperature objects. To recognize that air is a very good insulator.
  5. Lesson 5: To observe that hot water is lighter (less dense) than cold water. To understand why heated fluids convect upward.
  6. Lesson 6: To build a simple windmill that will rotate in the convection currents generated by a burning candle.
  7. Lesson 7: To appreciate that water is a good convector of heat, but a poor conductor.
  8. Lesson 8: To discover that paper in direct contact with a candle flame won't burn, as long as its heat is conducted away.
  9. Lesson 9: To understand that heat energy also travels like light, as an electromagnetic wave. To distinguish between conduction, convection and radiation.
  10. Lesson 10: To observe that radiated heat energy tends to be absorbed by a dull black surface, and reflected by a shiny metallic or white surface.
  11. Lesson 11: To test black, white and shiny metallic surfaces as emitters of heat radiation. To distinguish between the three processes of heat transfer.
  12. Lesson 12: To test black, white and shiny metallic surfaces as absorbers of heat radiation.
  13. Lesson 13: To construct a functioning greenhouse. To use it as a model for explaining how carbon dioxide gas in our atmosphere acts to warm the Earth.
  14. Lesson 14: To compare cooling curves for glass and metal containers.
  15. Lesson 15: To define and use calories as a unit of heat energy. To distinguish between temperature and heat.
  16. Lesson 16: To discover that the amount of heat given off by hot water equals the amount of heat absorbed by cold water.
  17. Lesson 17: To discover that heat lost equals heat gained for unequal volumes of water. To confirm that kinetic energy is conserved.
  18. Lesson 18: To compare the capacities of water, sand and iron to absorb heat.
  19. Lesson 19: To compute heat capacities and specific heats for water, sand and iron. To understand how these results influence weather.
  20. Lesson 20: To experimentally determine the heat content of a peanut.

National Science Education Standards (NRC 1996) for #15 Heat:

TEACHING Standards

These 20 Task Cards promote excellence in science teaching by these NSES criteria:
Teachers of science...
A: ...plan an inquiry-based science program. (p. 30)
B: ...guide and facilitate learning. (p. 32)
C: ...engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. (p. 37)
D: ...design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science. (p. 43)

CONTENT Standards

These 20 Task Cards contain fundamental content as defined by these NSES guidelines (p. 109).
• Represent a central event or phenomenon in the natural world.
• Represent a central scientific idea and organizing principle.
• Have rich explanatory power.
• Guide fruitful investigations.
• Apply to situations and contexts common to everyday experiences.
• Can be linked to meaningful learning experiences.
• Are developmentally appropriate for students at the grade level specified.

Unifying Concepts and Processes

NSES Framework: Systems, order, and organization • Evidence, models and explanation • Constancy, change, and measurement • Form and function
Core Concepts/Processes: Radiating heat is a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to radio waves, light, and gamma rays. • Kinetic energy transfers between bodies but remains conserved. • Temperature is a measure of average kinetic energy, while heat is a measure of total kinetic energy.

Science as Inquiry (content standard A)

NSES Framework: Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations. • Design and conduct a scientific investigation. • Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data. • Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence. • Think critically and logically to connect evidence and explanations. • Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions. • Communicate scientific procedures and explanations. • Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
Core Inquiries: Inquire into heat transfer by conduction, convection and radiation. • Count heat calories with a thermometer. • Measure heat capacity.

Physical Science (content standard B)

NSES Framework:Heat • Properties and changes of properties in matter • Transfer of energy • Conservation of energy • Interactions of energy and matter
Core Content:Conduction • Convection • Radiation • Absorption • Reflection • Insulators and conductors • Cooling curves • Temperature in degrees Celsius • Heat in calories

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives (content standard F)

NSES Framework: Changes in environments • Natural and human-induced hazards
Core Content: Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide in particular), is creating rapid global climate change.