Thermodynamics: The Physics of Heat
Mr. Miller

Sensation of Heat 1: Different Objects

Introduction:
We are trying to discover something about the way we perceive heat.  Upon what does our sensation of heat rest?  To find a way into this question we will use the scientific method.

Materials:
The air                                                 – symbol: A
Wood (cabinet doors)                         – symbol: WD
The classroom wall (drywall) – symbol: DW
Glass (on cabinet)                               – symbol: G
The metal leg of your chair                 – symbol: L
Some water in a plastic tub                 – symbol: WT
Our Hands
Temperature strips

Procedure:
Using your entire palm as your ‘warmth sensing device’, feel each of the objects listed above for 1-5 seconds (enough to get a good report from your warmth sense but not long enough to let the heat from your hand warm the object too much).

Really pay attention to the sensation of warmth or coldness for each object, then put them in order of “Warmest” to “Coldest”, with #1 as the warmest and #7 as the coldest:

#1:_____________________ (warmest)

#2:_____________________

#3:_____________________

#4:_____________________

#5:_____________________

#6:_____________________

#7:_____________________ (coldest)

When you are done rating the materials, go to the board and record your results in a column using the symbols provided in the materials section.

Once all observations have been recorded, we will get an assessment of the temperature of each object with the help of some thermometer strips.  Record the temperatures reported by the thermometers in the last column of the chart below.

Now you will need to copy from the board the entire class’ results, to compare with your own.  This helps us get a more comprehensive picture of the experiment because we don’t have to rely on any single person’s results, which may be wrong.  Use the table below to record the entire class’ results:

Put YOUR results in column 1. Record the acctual thermometer temperature reading in the last column.

 Warmest 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Temp Coolest

Why might some of the objects feel warmer than others?

Did you expect certain objects to be warmer or cooler than others?  Why?

Is there a discrepancy between what you experienced and what the thermometers report or not?  Explain.

Can you make any reasonable conclusions about your sense of warmth? (What are the factors that play into this sense?  In other words, what are all the things that, if they changed, would change our sensation of warmth?)

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