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Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Fulcrum Institute Development Team


Why do things end up at room temperature?

In everyday language we use the word "heat" in a variety of ways. Someone might say, "Don't open the kitchen door, the heat will escape," conjuring up an image of heat as a fast moving object. What do you envision when you hear someone say, "I turned up the heat" - a person reaching for the thermostat, or a higher flame in the furnace, or an increased room temperature?

In this session, you'll begin to explore the meaning of the word "heat" in science, and the difference between heat and temperature.

This Week's Plan

This week, it’s back to the kitchen, this time to investigate the rate at which temperature changes in the small system of a cup of coffee. You’ll use your temperature probes to collect temperature data and look for clues about heat transfer. You'll use Molecular Workbench to look at heat transfer from a particle perspective.

Understanding Goals

Understand that heat is a form of energy transfer from warmer objects to colder objects.
Understand how the rate of heat transfer corresponds to the difference in temperature between two objects in contact. 

What you need

  • 2 100 ml poly beakers
  • 400 ml beaker
  • 100 ml graduated cylinder
  • Support stand with 3/8 in. rod
  • Thermometer clamps for rod
  • Hot coffee or water
  • Refrigerated cream, milk, or water
  • 2 identical cups, e.g. foam coffee cups from kit

What you need from your kit

  • Vernier temperature probes
  • 2 foam coffee cups

Session Resources