Build a solar updraft tower to see radiation and convection at work.
Ask students where thermal energy comes from and then build a solar updraft tower to see examples of radiation and convection. Think about ways you use heat energy at home.
Each small group of students will need the following:
Thermal energy can be produced by chemical reactions, friction, the Sun, etc. Many chemical reactions make heat energy such as hand warmers, burning gasoline, decomposition, etc. Friction happens when two objects are rubbed together. If you rub your hands together, you can feel the heat generated. The Sun is a great source of energy that warms Earth enough for plants and animals to live, and can also be used for heating or electricity.
Thermal energy transfer can happen through conduction, convection or radiation. Conduction happens through objects touching (e.g. saucepan on a stove), convection happens as a current through gas or liquid (e.g. hot air rising), and radiation is heat that travels through space, like the heat you feel when you stand beside a campfire or fireplace, or heat from the sun.
Learn about natural and artificial sounds by making a kazoo.
Watch a slideshow and play a matching game about thermal energy at home.
Use construction paper, a pencil and a thumbtack to demonstrate how wheels spin.
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