Many students make incorrect quantitative predictions about the temperature of a mixture of two samples of liquid at different initial temperatures, even when they can make correct qualitative predictions

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

  • Demonstration: Mixing hot and cold water (11-16)

    Mixing two masses of water at different temperatures to discuss energy transfer.

    When the waters are mixed the temperature ends up somewhere between the two initial temperatures. You might ask: "Has anything stayed the same during the mixing?"

    View Resource


  • Pathare, S., Huli, S., Nachane, M., Ladage, S. and Pradhan, H., () Understanding thermal equilibrium through activities, Physics Education, 50 (2) 146-158.

    This research paper reports the success of a module of five activities designed to develop undergraduate students’ understanding of thermal equilibrium. These activities were designed to be incremental and develop the use of a liquid flow analogy. The research was carried out by a university-based researcher in India.

    Paper digest

  • Paik, S.H., Cho, B.K., Go Y.M. () Korean 4- to 11-Year-Old Student Conceptions of Heat and Temperature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44, (2) 284–302, published online in Wiley Interscience.

    This paper from South Korea presents the findings of a study on young students' conceptions of heat and temperature. Interviews with 4-11-year-olds revealed evolving understandings, showing instances where younger students outperformed in predicting changes. They suggest that increased mathematical education and the use of scientific terminology can help improve understanding.

    Paper digest

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