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Teacher Background: Rotational information

Rotation 1: Spoon conduction experiment and heat vs molecule investigation
Activity 1: Spoon conduction experiment
Teacher background information: Heat can move from one place to another – heat is transferred. It always
moves from somewhere or something hot to a place or object that’s cooler. When heat moves through a solid,
students should understand that this solid ‘conducts’ the heat. Some materials conduct heat better than others.
That means the heat can move more easily through them. Just as some materials are good conductors of heat,
such as metals, others are good insulators. An insulator prevents or reduces the movement (or transfer) of heat.
(Look! We're Learning!, 2018)

Materials: Wooden spoons, metal spoons, plastic spoons, boiling water, kettle, mugs, student booklets, butter.

Aim: To demonstrate that energy can move from one place to another (conduction), and that some materials
help to prevent energy transfer (insulation).

1. Have students pour hot water in into a coffee mug (offer assistance with this process to ensure safety).
2. Have students put all four spoons into the water at once, arrange them so they aren't touching,
3. Get students to feel the difference in temperature in each spoon. The spoons will be soaking up the heat
from the water and the more conductive the material, the hotter it will feel.
4. Have students add butter to each of the spoons and record their observations in their student booklet.

Discuss with students prior to activity which material spoon will conduct heat the quickest to melt the butter?
Have them fill in their student booklets and complete the experiment. Discuss with them what materials they
could use in their food warmer challenge to keep something hot and have them fill in the question in their
student booklet.
Activity 2: Heat vs molecule investigation
Background information: Molecules move faster when they are warmer and slower when they are
colder. The drop of food colouring spreads out fastest in the hot water because the molecules
are moving the fastest of the three jars. The food colouring spreads out fairly quickly in room
temperature water and slowest in the cold water. Eventually the food colouring spreads
throughout all three jars (Cool Science Experiment Headquarters, 2018).

 Clear jars
 water
 food coloring
 masking tape
 markers
 thermometer
1. Have students label the jars with room temperature water, hot water and cold water
2. Get them to fill the jar labeled Room Temperature.
3. Get them to Fill the jar labeled Cold water from the refrigerator.
4. Teacher to add the Hot Water to the jar.
5. Have them add a drop of food coloring to each of the jars and observe what happens over time.
6. Record results in their student booklets.
Questions to ask students:
 What happens to the drop of food colouring?
 Does the food coloring behave the same in each of the jars? Why or why not?
 What is different about the jars?
 What can you say about the relationship between heat and the movement of the food colouring?

Differentiation and further investigation :
For higher level groups: if students finish the experiment quickly use the hot water and cold-
water jars to create a convection current. Convection is the movement within a liquid when the hotter
and less dense liquid rises, and the colder, denser liquid sinks due to gravity. This results in a transfer of
heat. Heat can be transferred by convection when there is a big difference in temperature between the
two different liquids. Students can investigate the variables of changing the jar that is on top to observe
how the outcome changes.

For lower level groups: use explicit instructions and read the method of the experiment before and during the
student’s investigation to ensure they understand the expectations of the activity. Model how to fill the jar and
add the food colouring so they can see what they are expected to do. Scribe for students who require support
with writing to fill in their student booklets.
Rotation 2: Can conductor / paper colour experiment
Activity 1: Can conductor
Teacher background information: The sun emits light, which is a form of energy. When the light hits a dark
object, like the black paper or can it will mostly be absorbed and this energy is converted into heat. When the
light hits a light coloured object, like the white paper or painted can, it is mostly reflected, which means only a
small amount of the light energy is converted into heat (Origin Energy, 2018).

There are two parts to this rotation. Firstly, have students think about the best way to heat water in a can, using
energy from the sun. Discuss with students how they will set up two cans in the sunlight, one plain and one
modified, and compare the temperature of the water in each over time. Whilst this is happening complete
activity 2.

Soft drink cans – prepared with black and white paint and some left unpainted
Black and white paper
Black and white material

Activity 1: Question for investigation: How can we heat the water in the can faster? How could we modify the
can to make the water heat quicker?
Why do you think that modification will cause the water in the can to heat faster?
Complete the activity and then move to activity 2 while the cans are in the sun.
Ask students to observe what happened to each of the cans?
Which can was the hottest when tested using a thermometer?
Ask them why they think the modification to the can made the water hotter/cooler and recorder their results in
their student booklets.

Activity 2: Black and white and thermometer test
Materials: Thermometers, black paper, white paper

Predict: Ask students which thermometer they think will get the hottest – the dark or light. Discuss whether dark
surfaces (e.g., asphalt) or bright surfaces (e.g., concrete) tend to get hotter in sunlight. Which would you rather
walk on during the day in the summertime?

Test: Have students work in small groups to put three thermometers in a sunny place. Cover the bulb of one
with black paper. Cover the bulb of another with white paper. Leave the third one uncovered.

Wait for a few minutes.

Get students to record the temperatures of the three thermometers in the table in the student booklet.
Ask if students predictions were right and if they can explain the result. Ask how they could use the information
when designing their food container.

Differentiation and further investigation activities:
-Have higher level students choose two modifications (adding black paint/ white paint/ aluminum foil/ material
or cloth and use three water cans to compare and explain the differences.
-Have students compare the differences between empty cans and cans filled with water.
-Perform the experiment with unopened cans of soft drink, to see the temperature of the liquid inside is
- Support students with low literacy to scribe their ideas and results.
- Ensure suitable access to desks for students with special needs or in a wheelchair to put their cans and observe
the results.
- Help students to read the numbers on the thermometer if needed and record the results (use cards with
numbers for support)
Explain to students that they will work in teams to complete a challenge. They need to design and engineer a
food container that will keep water warm for at least 1 hour. Students will decide what role they will take on in
their group (see role cards below). Explain that they have knowledge about the materials that conduct and
insulate heat and to use this when planning their design.

Students will design and construct their idea in the 30 minutes allocated and will test their design during class
time. They should also be given time to re-design their idea and re-test to compare the differences the new
ideas made to the temperature of the soup. Discuss with students about using a control sample to test if their
designs made any difference to the temperature of the soup at the end of the hour.

Materials: Boxes, plastic containers, different colour paints, metal tins, plastic wrap, woolen material, wire,
string, straws.

Other possible tests for their design could include whether it can keep an ice block cold for 30minutes, as per
the below video.

(Video from WGBH Educational Foundation, 2018)

Differentiation strategies for Year 3 activities and challenge:

Differentiation is understanding the diversity of individuals and adapting teaching to ensure that their
needs are taken into account (Hyde et al., 2014, p. 398). The below table outlines strategies for
differentiating the STEM event activities.
Learners being Differentiation strategies
catered for
Low level learners When discussing the outcomes of the activities, repeat the new-found
information to make the learning explicit for students.

Group students in mixed ability groups in the challenge section of the STEM
event, to allow for more capable students to offer support to peers. This allows
lower achieving students to take advantage of peer support, while giving higher
achieving students a chance to organise and express their ideas for the benefit of
the whole group (Educational Publishers, 2010).

Modified conversations can be implemented with students that require detailed
explanations or simpler language (Educational Publishers, 2010). This strategy is
useful to cater for culturally and linguistically diverse students by using language
in context and saying specific words and phrases to develop their understanding
of the use of the language.

Highlighting specific parts of the student’s booklet can help students find the key
terms to answer questions.

Some students may require a demonstration of the activity and can work more
closely with the teacher when completing their experiments in the two rotational
High achieving Use ability grouping for the rotational activities. This allows students to
students/ gift investigate phenomena and discuss with their peers at the level of their
students understanding. Activities can be extended to cater to these students.

Ask higher level students more complex and open-ended questions for them to
explain the concept in more detail.

Have them draw their understanding of the concept in each activity to show
other students if they finish the task before the designated time.

Students with special Use ability grouping for the rotational activities. This allows students to
needs investigate phenomena and discuss with their peers at the level of their
understanding. Activities can be scaled down to cater to these learners.

When completing the work booklet re-read or scribe for students who require

Ensure that the area students are completing the rotational activities are
wheelchair friendly and that the materials are accessible for students to

Have students choose a “role card” that allows them to use their strengths within
the group challenge.

Use a microphone when introducing the activities and completing rotations for
students with hearing impairments to be able to hear instructions and
understand the concepts being discussed.

Students with When grouping ensure that students with behavioural concerns have worked
behavioral issues with students in the same group well in past scenarios.

‘’Students will display challenging behaviour when the academic work does not
coincide with their ability level” (Hyde et al, 2014 p. 160). Therefore, planning
activities that are age appropriate and are able to be complete by students
within a group is an important preventative strategy.
Challenge role cards: These have been used to ensure that each member has an active role in some part of
the design and construction. These badges do not limit students to these tasks and they are able to assist
with other aspects of the solar cooker project.

(Role cards retrieved from Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA, 2018)