mitten

Page Keeley has a classic problem, The Mitten Problem, that can be used to help elicit students preconceptions about heat and how heat is transferred.  This temperature assessment probe, coupled with Vernier Temperature probes can provide an excellent phenomenon-based learning opportunity in your classroom.

Begin by setting the stage for children, “Sara’s science class is investigating heat energy.  They wonder what would happen to the temperature reading on a temperature sensor if they put the thermometer in a mitten.”  Using temperature probes, students can plan and carry out their own investigation.  Oftentimes, this first investigation leads to more questions as students “often believe that some materials and objects, such as blankets or mittens, are intrinsically warm.”

  • I wonder what would happen with my really warm ski gloves?
  • I wonder what would happen with the fuzzy socks I wear at home?
  • I wonder what would happen with my winter coat?

These questions, lead to an additional investigation and support student’s sense-making in the ways heat is generated and transferred.  If you want to try this investigation in your own classroom, here’s one way to think about setting it up.

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