Good and Poor Conductors of Heat

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Students will be able to identify objects that are good and poor conductors of heat.

Big Idea

Students will test the heat conduction of different materials in the classroom such as a metal spoon, a plastic spoon, and a tongue depressor.


1 minutes
Good and Poor Heat Conductors Intro.JPG page 1

Warm Up

10 minutes

To begin this lesson, I will lead a class discussion. I will ask the students to describe what they believe a conductor is. I will encourage students to share any associations that they have with the word; including the driver of a train and the leader of an orchestra.

I will inform students that in science, a conductor can have an additional meaning. I will define the meaning of conductor as a material that allows heat to move through them easily. I will prompt students to give examples of conductors.


25 minutes

To begin the explore section, I will display different items such as a metal spoon, a plastic spoon, a tongue depressor, a pencil, metal scissors, a crayon, and a wooden ruler. I will ask students to predict which object they believe is the best conductor of heat. I will direct students to form groups of four and prepare to share their thinking about which items are the best conductors. Each group will get each of the items that I displayed. I will give the students an opportunity to sort the items together. As they work, I will encourage the students to share their thinking with their group mates. Doing so will promote a classroom environment where new ideas are welcomed and different ideas are respected. 

Once groups have completed their sorts, I will encourage students to share their thinking among their peers. Sharing their thinking promotes intellectual risk taking by challenging the students to think more deeply or to rethink their sort to make additional changes. I will encourage students to questions each other's reasoning behind their sorts.

I will provide each group a cup of hot water from the classroom sink. I will instruct the students to test the heat conduction of each material  by placing it into the hot water. Each students will receive a recording sheet to write their observations on as they work. I will encourage students to re-sort their materials as they investigate based on their observations.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To conclude the lesson, students will review their observational notes from their investigation. I will ask students to share which items they discovered were the best conductors of heat? Which objects were poor conductors? 

I will have students share their ideas on when a good conductor or a poor conductor would be used in the real world. Lastly, as an exit card, I will challenge students to answer the question:

How does challenging yourself or your peers to think deeper help you pick and sort materials that are good and poor conductors of heat?

This exit card provides feedback to me as the instructor regarding my strategy of choice in this lesson; which was to have students share their sorts and explain the reasoning behind their thinking.