Students use ad hoc ideas about materials and properties to explain thermal phenomena

Energy and Thermal Physics | Properties of Matter


Resources to Address This

  • Examples of change of phase (11-16)

    These experiments demonstrate that the phase of matter depends on temperature. Although the activities may seem trivial, many children are surprised that some metals melt at low temperatures. The process of melting, freezing, evaporation and condensing should be discussed in terms of a change in the structure of the materials and a volume change.

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  • Lee, C. K. () A Conceptual Change Model for Teaching Heat Energy, Heat Transfer and Insulation. Science Education International, 25, (4) 417-437.

    This study examined 20 pre-service elementary teachers' (PSET) understanding of energy, heat transfer and insulation pre- and post-intervention. The research was carried out by a university-based researcher in the USA, using qualitative analysis of interviews and quiz data.

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  • 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.

    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.

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  • Geourgiou, H. and Sharma, M.D. () University students understanding of Thermal Physics in everyday contexts, International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 10, 1119-1142.

    Taiwanese researchers performed a qualitative analysis of first-year undergraduate students’ thermal physics conceptions. It identifies a range of misconceptions, some of which persist despite higher levels of physics education (17-18 years).

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  • Kesidou, S. and Duit, R. () Students' Conceptions of the Second Law of Thermodynamics- An Interpretive Study, Journal Of Research In Science Teaching, 30, (1) 85-106.

    Research shows that even the most able secondary school students are often unable to distinguish between the concepts of temperature and heat and their link to energy. The research shows that tackling the difference between heat and temperature is vital in understanding energy transfer by thermal processes, like conduction and convection. Using this approach, students can link to other energy transfers, stores, and energy conservation to build up a complete picture of energy.

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