Many students think the temperature of boiling water will continue to rise if it is heated, and that the temperature of a sample of ice will fall if more ice is added

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

  • Examination of boiling (11-16)

    This is a magnificent experiment, which at the outset may not appear very exciting.

    Half fill a beaker with water and then bring it gently to the boil. Watch the process carefully, observing the formation of bubbles.

    View Resource


  • Jasien, P. G. () Roles of Terminology, Experience and Energy Concepts in Student Conceptions of Freezing and Boiling. Journal of Chemical Education, 90, 1609-1615.

    Researchers analyse student conceptions of solid-liquid and liquid-vapour phase transitions using data from 117 undergraduate chemistry students, using data from open-ended, short-answer questions. The collected responses offer insights into students' understanding of these phase changes.

    Paper digest

  • Chu, H, Treagust, D. F., Yeo, S. and Zadnik, M. () Evaluation of Students' Understanding of Thermal Concepts in Everyday Contexts. International Journal of Science Education, 34, (10) 1509-1534.

    This research finds a wide range of misconceptions about temperature and energy held by secondary school students, revealing that the students can have a very confused understanding of thermal physics and how energy is transferred by thermal processes such as conduction and radiation. To tackle these ideas students need to be taught clear links between energy transfer and heating, based on the initial idea of transfer of energy from ‘hot’ to ‘cold’ materials, and moving towards the idea of thermal equilibrium.

    Paper digest

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