Many students attribute macroscopic properties like hot and cold, melting, or expanding to particles (or to atoms, molecules) when using a particulate model to explain thermal phenomena

Energy and Thermal Physics


Diagnostic Resources

The following worksheets may help to identify whether students hold this particular misconception.

For more information, see the University of York BEST website.

Resources to Address This

  • A model of vibrating atoms in a solid (11-16)

    Ref - Practical physics; Molecules; Thermal expansion; A model of vibrating atoms in a solid

    This activity stresses that the particles remain the same size.  It is vibration that makes take up more volume.

    View Resource


  • Lubben, F.; Netshisaulu, T. and Campbell, B. () Students' use of cultural metaphors and their scientific understandings related to heating, Science Education, 83, (6)


    Review sheet

IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

Energy CPD videos

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