Many students at secondary school level think of heat as an intangible substance that can flow into and out of objects
This idea can present itself in many ways in a student's understanding. Examples include:
- Metals trap or absorb cold
- Dark objects attract heat
- Heat and cold are substances residing in objects
What the ideas have in common is the reference to heat as a substance to which they can attribute fluid behaviour.
Resources to Address This
Warming things up (11-14)
Ref - SPT En05 PN01
This resource explores what happens to the behaviour of the particles as an object is warmed.View Resource
Heat is not a substance (11-14)
Ref - SPT Eno5 TL04
Some teachers ban the use of the word heat in their teaching and insist that pupils refer to the heating or warming process.
Heat and temperature (11 - 16)
Ref - Practical Physics; Energy; Thermal Energy; Heat and temperature
One important aspect of students’ growing understanding of energy ideas involves sorting out the ideas of heat and temperature (hotness or coldness).
Kinetic theory describes the energy of an object as being due to the random motion of its molecules. If you give more energy to be shared out amongst the atoms and molecules of some piece of matter, it usually gets hotter. But ‘hotness’ is not energy.View Resource
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- Thomas, M. F.; Malaquias, I. M.; Valente, M. C. and Antunes, M. J. () An attempt to overcome alternative conceptions related to heat and temperature. Physics Education, 30 (1)
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- Trumper, R. () A Longitudinal Study of Physics Students' Conceptions on Energy in Pre-Service Training for High School Teachers. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 7 (4)