Energy: Stop Faking It!
Heat, Temperature, and Thermal Energy!
The second of two Web Seminars on Energy: Stop Faking
It! was held on Wednesday, June 14, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
The presenter was Bill Robertson, author of the popular NSTA Press series Stop Faking
It! Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It. Robertson focused
his presentation on the concepts of heat, temperature, and thermal energy. Among
the participants were a few teachers who had attended the face-to-face
symposium at the NSTA National Conference in Science Education in Anaheim,
The session started with a general overview of the NSTA Web Seminar tools and how
they can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenters.
Thirty-two participants were present in addition to the presenters and the NSTA
staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, California, Colorado,
Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri,
New Mexico, New York, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., and Wyoming.
Robertson started the presentation asking the participants to define the concepts
of temperature and heat. He then proceeded to define temperature as a term directly
related to the average speed of the molecules in a substance. At this time Robertson
also defined thermal energy as the measure of the total kinetic and potential energy
in an object. Robertson used a few examples to assess the participants' understanding,
including one, comparing water inside a swimming pool to water on a thimble. The
image he presented indicated that the water inside the thimble was at a higher temperature
than the water inside the swimming pool. However, the water inside the thimble had
less thermal energy than the water inside the swimming pool. Teachers had a lot
of questions about this picture which Robertson answered well. Robertson then defined
the concept of heat as the energy given off or absorbed by an object.
Robertson continued the program talking about the kinetic theory of gases. He explained
that gases do not necessarily expand when you heat them and do not necessarily contract
when you cool them. The discussion of these ideas took most of the rest of the program.
A few participants asked several questions about this concept, so many they had
to agree to continue the conversation via the discussion listserv. Throughout the
presentation there were several opportunities for the participants to interact with
each other and with the presenter by chatting, stamping, and marking. The presenter
also answered questions via the chat for 15 minutes after the program finished.
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
- "The discussion added so much to this seminar. It is so much easier to understand
how my students develop misunderstandings when we cover gases, temperature, and
- "I like chat, phone and slide show combination. I like the idea of a follow-up
listserv. Thank you for making all of these possible."
- "Learned to think more about the idea of expansion and contraction so I can
be clear with the kids that the amount of expansion of a container will depend on
the rigidity of the material it is made of. Bill is an entertaining presenter, I
enjoyed his style."
- "I learned how to better explain the relationship between temperature and thermal
energy. It was also nice to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with these
concepts. Bill gave concrete and easy to understand examples."
Thanks to the participants and to Bill Robertson for the learning opportunity, the
interactions, and a job well done!
Web Seminar II Resources
See a recorded
version of the Web Seminar.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Underwritten in part by NSTA Press