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An insulator is a substance that prevents the transfer of heat or cold. Your winter hat is an insulator. It keeps the cold in the winter air from making your head cold. It blocks the transfer of cold from the air to you. It also blocks the transfer of heat from your head to the air.
Here is an experiment that will show you how different materials make better insulators than others.
What You Need:
- 3 Identical Coffee Mugs
- 4 Rubber Bands
- Paper Towel
- Aluminum Foil
- Cotten Fabric (t-shirt – check the label)
- Wool Sock
Wrap the paper towel around the outside of one mug and secure it with a rubber band. Do the same with the other three mugs using alumninum foil, cotton and the wool sock.
Fill a pitcher with very hot tap water. Be careful! Take the temperature of the water and write the temperature down.
Fill each cup to the top with the hot tap water. Wait five minutes and take the temperature of the water in each cup. Make a chart to keep track of each cup’s temperature. Record each temperature after 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes. What happens to the temperature of the water in each cup?
Here are some websites and books that will help you understand heat and insulators:
- Science Kids: Heat Transfer
- The Magic School Bus in the Arctic Experiment
- Super Simple Things To Do With Temperature: Insulation Fascination (pages 11-13)
Words to Know:
Insulator - A reduction of heat transfer between objects. Insulators keep cool things cool and warm things warm – like the thermos in your lunch box or the blubber on marine mammals.
Heat – A high temperature.
Temperature – The level of heat present in a substance or of an object or person. Temperature is measured on a thermometer and expressed in number of degrees. Temperature can also be determined by using the sense of touch. Human skin is sensitive to changes in temperature.