Many students attribute macroscopic properties (like hot, cold, expansion) to particles when using a particulate model

Energy and Thermal Physics | Properties of Matter


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)

    This activity stresses that the particles remain the same size; it is the vibration that increases the 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), 761-774.

    In this study, South African researchers explored 147 students’ use of cultural metaphoric reasoning in classifying everyday situations as hot or cold, as is part of Sotho cultural tradition, and how this develops misconceptions of heating.

    Paper digest

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