September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Heat Up Science!

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

by Sue Pritchard

I am sure you have noticed that education looks a bit different these past two years.  The recession has played havoc in how districts assign teachers, and fluctuating student populations make teacher placement even trickier. I would imagine most of us know at least one teacher who is now wondering, “How am I going to teach science without a science background?”  Right?

I am no different.  I know several teachers in that same situation.  I hope this article helps many of you start the year “on fire,” but not literally.  This collection of ideas focuses on the 6th grade science standards on heat (thermal energy).  The exciting part of this article for me is the new CSTA delivery system of CCS.  Now that we are eCCS, we can help you save steps by connecting directly to the outside links cited.  Read further for some fun suggestions to make your planning easier and your students engaged in science.

Heat transfer is a fascinating concept to teach.  It is possible to use very simple materials and still have a “wow” impact on the students.  Try the Jefferson Lab’s ideas found at http://education.jlab.org/beamsactivity/6thgrade/coldstuff/tra01.l.html.  This site has a wonderful set of activities and formative assessments.  The first page gives a great way to assess students’ prior knowledge on conduction, convection, and radiation.  If an LCD projector is available in the classroom, project assessment pages to the class and have them take a few minutes to respond either individually or in small groups.  Since some of the terms are defined at the top of the page, this can be a great way to quickly monitor student focus and application abilities.

Once students’ knowledge levels are assessed, page through the site to find fun, inexpensive activities that can support the student-learned outcomes needed.  The “Cold Stuff” assessment tool is also reorganized into an activity.  Students can bring supplies from home and really expand on what they use for insulators.  It is possible to investigate the concepts within the descriptions given or to allow the students to think outside the box and enhance the activities with their “teacher approved” additions.

“The Cold Stuff” is but one resource at this site.  Click on the different buttons on the top right of the homepage: teacher resources, student zone, games & puzzles, etc., to read about other investigative opportunities provided.

Want more ideas on heat and thermodynamics?  Check out http://www.school-for-champions.com/science/heat_transfer.htm and click on the sixteen different choices for some good background information and activities.  Although the information on this site is good, the site does not have the kinds of graphics that some educators may expect.  Look beyond this aspect and enjoy the ideas presented.  Most of these activities can be the beginnings of inquiry science investigations.  Depending on how you approach the learning, you can simply follow the activities as they are listed, or you can increase the inquiry approach through the use of questioning.  For more information on changing recipe style science activities to inquiry approaches, refer to the site I have mentioned in previous articles, http://www.csulb.edu/~acolburn/AETS.htm.  Bookmark this site because you may want to refer to it often during the school year.

I would be remiss if I did not mention an excellent web resource that I use often.  When I searched the Exploratorium site for heat transfer ideas, a very long list appeared.  Check out http://www.exploratorium.edu/search/index.php to see what is available.  I highly recommend surfing the EXPLO.TV site where a library of podcasts, webcasts, and video clips are just waiting to be enjoyed.  Overall, though, the Exploratorium website is not only an excellent source of thermal activities but also contains some great ideas to help segue to the the 6th grade science standards on Shaping Earth’s Surface.  No matter how the site is used, it is an excellent resource.

I hope you enjoy our new form of delivery, the eCCS.  It is a great way for all of us to be “green” and still enjoy the great resources that YOUR CSTA offers to you.  Enjoy the beginning of your school year … and keep science in the forefront.  All of our students … all of society, deserve it.  Enjoy some hot heat transfer and share it with your students!  It is good for you … it is good for your students … and it is good for science.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.