See heat with a thermal imaging camera

St Saviours Junior Church School, Wednesday, 05 December 2018
10 Explorer KS1, KS2, KS3

What you did

We used the Transition Bath thermal imaging camera to investigate how different types of cup materials retain heat. We also looked at ourselves wearing different clothes to see which clothes kept in our body heat better. Some groups also looked around the classroom to see where the cold points were and the impact of opening a window on classroom temperatures. 

Activity description

This activity links to:
English KS1 Curriculum - Science - Everyday materials
English KS3 Curriculum - Physics - energy transfer

Scottish curriulum - SCN 2-04a ways of reducing wasted energy.

Welsh KS2 Curriculum -
The Sustainable Earth 4. Properies of materials
Welsh KS3 Curriculum -
How things work 2. conservation of energy

Insulation in our clothing keeps us warm on cold days. Insulation installed into our homes, buildings and schools reduces how much heat they lose during the winter, making them warmer and reducing how much money we spend on gas and other fuels. Insulation in our buildings is often hidden, in the walls, in lofts and under the floor. It is a cheap way to save energy and money; making our homes and schools cheaper to keep warm. 

Some materials let heat move through them easily (they conduct heat well). These materials are called thermal conductors.

Metals (for example, steel and aluminium) are good thermal conductors. We use metals to make objects that need to conduct heat well. For example metal saucepans conduct heat well so the food inside heats up quickly.

Thermal Insulators
Other materials do not let heat move through them easily (they do not conduct heat well). These materials are called thermal insulators.
Plastics, wood and some fabrics are good thermal insulators.
Thermal insulators are good at keeping heat out and keeping heat in. Your winter scarf is a good example of a thermal insulator. It stops the heat from your body escaping into the cold air.
Plastic is a good example of a thermal insulator. It can be used as a handle on a saucepan - the plastic stops the heat from travelling to your hand.

Heat always travels from a warmer area to a cooler one. So a hot drink left in a cold place will always lose heat to the surroundings. It will get cooler until eventually it is at the same temperature as its surroundings.
But if the drink is inside a good thermal insulator (like a thermos flask) it will lose the heat very slowly.

Thermal Imaging camera experiments

The linked experiments can be completed as teacher demonstrations or as a carousel of activities in class for KS2 and KS3 pupils.

The Learning about insulation activity is a chance for KS1/LKS2 children to use the thermal camera.

If your school does not have a thermal camera these can often be borrowed from secondary schools, university, local council or sustainability groups in your area.

Energy Sparks supports St Saviours Junior Church School in partnership with Bath and NE Somerset Council and Schools Climate Network