How is the transfer of heat energy impacted by materials and design?
In this unit students investigate energy transfer in homes which are constructed using different material and designs. The emphasis is on heat transfer and practical ways to prevent energy loss in homes and other buildings. Students are organized into teams to identify common characteristics and shapes of dwellings and how surface area and volume are related to actual living space. Then they investigate the relationship between the heating and cooling of a building and the impact of insulation and material types on the heat energy transfer between the building and its surroundings. Students also investigate the insulating properties of various materials by designing experiments to measure temperature change of hot and cold objects at various time intervals. Next they explore where insulation should be placed in a building to increase energy efficiency and factors that constrain the amount of insulation that can be used. Students explore the connection between the placement and size of windows, overhangs, and awnings with heating and cooling costs. This analysis is then expanded to include the effect of the sun’s altitude in the sky during different seasons. The unit concludes by students experimenting to determine the final temperature when two liquids of different temperatures are mixed and when a hot metal object is added to a container of cold water, which leads to the concepts of specific heat of materials, heat energy conservation, and entropy.
C2.2A Describe conduction in terms of molecules bumping into each other to transfer energy. Explain why there is better conduction in solids and liquids than gases.
C2.2d Explain convection and the difference in transfer of thermal energy for solids, liquids, and gases using evidence that molecules are in constant motion.
C3.3A Describe how heat is conducted in a solid.
C5.4 Phase Change/Diagrams
C5.4A Compare the energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of aluminum and one gram of water the same number of degrees.
E2.2 Energy in Earth Systems
E2.2C Describe natural processes in which heat transfer in the Earth occurs by conduction, convection, and radiation.
P4.2 Energy Transformation
P4.2A Account for and represent energy transfer and transformation in complex processes (interactions).
P4.2B Name devices that transform specific types of energy into other types (e.g., a device that transforms electricity into motion).
P4.2C Explain how energy is conserved in common systems (e.g., light incident on a transparent material, light incident on a leaf, mechanical energy in a collision).
P4.11x Heat, Temperature, and Efficiency
P4.11b Calculate the final temperature of two liquids (same or different materials) at the same or different temperatures and masses that are combined.
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- What characteristics of materials influence their ability to block heat energy transfer?
- How does building design impact the transfer of heat energy?
- How is building efficiency improved by applying an understanding of the three mechanisms of heat energy transfer?
- Where should windows and awnings be placed to maximize a building’s energy efficiency?
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