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Thermal conductors and insulators

Thermal insulators

Today, I would like you to be able to compare everyday materials based on evidence from tests about their ability to conduct heat. Sometimes we need materials to be good thermal insulators. Please watch the video below.

Simple test – What affect will a coat have on a person and an iceman?


What do you think will happen to the heat from a person and the heat from outside of a snowman when they are each covered in a layer of material (i.e. a coat)?


You could make an ice balloon (water frozen in a balloon) for the iceman and a beaker or mug containing warm water (up to 60 degrees Celsius) for the person. Then you could investigate what happened to the ‘iceman’ and ‘person’ when they are wrapped with an identical piece of fabric.


You could extend this investigation to find out which material makes the best insulator for the iceman (i.e. the material that will be best at slowing down the rate at which it melts).


You could draw the iceman and person dressed in the fabric. Then use labels and arrows to show where the heat is moving from and which direction it is traveling. Can you use the term ‘thermal insulator’ in your poster?