Heat - Thermal conductivity
The materials required for this science fair project:
- Copper wire 1.1 meter in length
- Aluminum wire 1.1 meter in length
- Steel wire 1.1 meter in length
(All 3 types of wire must have the same diameter)
- 2 beakers
- tap water
- 1 hot plate
- 1 meter long ruler
- 1 black marker pen
- 1 infrared digital thermometer
- A clock
1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the type of wire used – copper, aluminum and steel. The dependent variable is the thermal conductivity of the wires. This is determined by using the digital infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of the wires. The constants (control variables) are the length and diameter of the wires, the temperature of the water and the distance between the measurements.
2. The tips of all 3 wires are bent at 90 degree angle, 50mm from their tips so that the center portion will be 1 meter long. Using the marker pen, a mark is placed every 200mm along the wire, starting from the first bent corner to the last one. There should be 6 markings on each wire.
3. One of the beakers is filled with tap water and brought to a boil on the hot plate. The second beaker will remain empty. The bent corners of the wires are suspended on the edge of the 2 beakers. One end of the bent wire will be immersed into the boiling water.
4. After 20 minutes, the temperature is measured using the digital infrared thermometer at the spots that were marked on the wire earlier. All measured temperature values for the copper, aluminum and steel wires are recorded in the table given below.
Handle boiling water very carefully – adult assistance is required.