It amazes me sometimes. Both of my Year 10 groups have their next pair of (AQA) module exams on Wednesday next week. Both had homework set to produce evidence of revision (a long list of suggestions was made available) so I knew they were doing something. Both groups walked in to their lesson today and expressed total shock that they would be doing a past paper in exam conditions. They seemed surprised that I expected them to have calculators and pens for said exam. And please note, I teach in a good school, in a good area, with good results. Over the past few years I’ve started to come to the conclusion that these results are despite the kids, not because of them.
Anyway, complaint over. I wanted to share two activities that I’ve produced to help them with understanding, and distinguishing, different methods of heat transfer.
The first is fairly straightforward – in fact it is adapted from an activity I found in a textbook older than I am. Students are asked to explain various phenomena, such as wrapping chips in newspaper to keep them warm, or the rising of a hot air balloon, using key facts about conduction, convection and radiation. I ask them to look for common features in their explanations once they are finished. If time is short different groups can work on one of the three methods rather than completing all of the explanations. Ideally explanations should be shared with the class, perhaps by having them write up their main points on the board as they work and summing up at the end.
If there is time, I then ask them to complete the second activity. If not, it can be done independantly or at a later point, or perhaps as homework. In this, they are given some key phrases which can be used as ‘signposts’ towards specific kind of heat transfer. If a component is painted black, for example, I explain that radiation is probably a factor. Once the phrases and words are sorted into three categories they are asked to use them in a series of activities, such as producing a mind map or writing questions with these answers.
The two activities are complementary; the idea is to help students realise that by focusing on the key points, they can often identify which kind of heat transfer is most relevant. That domestic ‘radiators’ are painted white suggests that radiation is not the most important way they heat the room, for example.
Good luck to all colleagues who have similar students and hope these are useful – please let me know if so, if not or if you have any ideas I can steal…