Approaches to learning about heat

Heat transfer is the way in which heat is moved: in solids by conduction; in liquids and gases by convection; and from a hot object, like the sun or a stove, by radiation. The children can use their sense of touch to compare water at different temperatures, for example from cold to luke-warm. They should appreciate the need for a more standard measurement of hotness and should be encouraged to use thermometers to check the temperature of things. They should recognise that temperature is a measure of how hot something is.

The children’s ideas about heat will be developed as they work with different materials. The strand unit ‘Materials and change’ will provide them with opportunities to explore the effects of heating and cooling as they investigate the properties of different materials. In the middle and senior classes they will learn about the different states of matter and will explore the effects of heating and cooling on solids, liquids and gases.

In the senior classes children will be introduced to the use of fossil fuels as non-renewable sources of heat and to renewable forms of energy, such as wind, water and solar energy. Children can design and make windmills, which make use of the energy of the wind, or water wheels, which make use of the energy from water, to help them develop ideas about renewable sources of energy. They should become aware of the importance of conserving energy and be encouraged to use simple measures such as closing doors and turning off lights.

Safety: the teacher should be very careful in the organisation of tests involving the use of hot water - the children should use water that is safe for them.