How Cold Is Cold?by: Richard Konicek-Moran

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Heat and cold are often difficult concepts for children to understand. First, our everyday sloppy language gives them a predisposition to such common misconceptions as cold being a substance that moves from place to place. Our colloquial language often reinforces the existence of “cold energy,” when it is scientifically acceptable to refer only to heat as a form of energy that is transferred from a warmer object to a cooler one and that cold is an absence of heat. Therefore, this story tries to set the stage for discussions and inquiry into the nature of temperature and heat and to the fact that heat exchange is the cause of what scientists call a phase change—when something goes from liquid to solid or vice versa. In essence, this may be the students’ first encounter with the laws of thermodynamics.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
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Reviews (2)
  • on Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:10 AM

This is a great engagement piece to highlight to students that science is in our everyday lives. I like the fact that this begins as a simple observation/question. It is tied to properties of objects and materials, heat, light, electricity, and magnetism. Transfer of energy is also evident with energy transformations. It can be used with K-4 and 5-8.

Pamela Dupre  (Lake Charles, LA)
Pamela Dupre (Lake Charles, LA)

  • on Tue May 24, 2011 4:10 PM

Thermal energy is a difficult topic for students. This mystery has students looking at if more ice added to a drink equates to more cold or just cooling quicker. All of the mysteries provides background information and implementation information. I like them for their simplicity and use of simple materials.

Susan German  (Hallsville, MO)
Susan German (Hallsville, MO)

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