Heat Transfer and Ignition Student Guide


Guiding Questions:

  •  How does heat transfer between materials?
  •  Does shape and size effect ignition (catching fire) and combustion (burning)?
    Does the material effect ignition (catching fire) and combustion (burning)?

Why do we need to answer these questions?

Many things are fuel and can burn – things around us every day like clothes, hair, carpeting, furniture, etc. But solids and liquids do not burn. Only gases burn. When heat is applied, solids and liquid fuels can turn to gases that ignite.  We need to know how heat is transferred by: 1) conduction, 2) convection, and 3) radiation. When we know how heat is transferred, we can better understand the fire scene.

How will we answer these questions?

I. Explore how thermal energy is transferred from a candle flame to other materials by conduction, convection and radiation.

II. Using a block of wood, popsicle stick and saw dust, investigate the effect that physical properties like shape, size, and orientation have on ignition.

II. Using a popsicle stick, a polystyrene peanut, and a ceramic tile investigate the effect that material composition has on ignition.

Other Resources:

Be sure to explore the video showing this classroom investigation and related teacher guide.

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