Thermal Insulators and Conductors
If you put frozen ice cream into a metal bowl, warmth would travel from the bowl to the ice cream.

Thermal Insulators and Conductors

Thermal insulators and conductors are used for controlling heat and in this KS2 Science quiz we look at some of the ways we can use them.

Have you ever heard of thermal underwear? Some people wear it in the winter time to keep themselves warm. Thermal underwear is a good insulator. Insulators are materials which do not conduct heat very well and so we can use them to control heat and keep things hot or cold. Thermos flasks are made from insulating materials. Conductors are the opposite of insulators. Heat passes quite easily through them. We can use conductors to move heat, for example, radiators are made from metal. That's because metal is a good conductor of heat and so metal radiators warm rooms or cool engines much more quickly than wooden ones would!

Try this science quiz to test your knowledge on how thermal insulators and conductors control heat..

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  1. Plastic is a good thermal insulator. Where would you see plastic used?
    Plastic would melt if it got too hot so it would be no good inside a cooker or on the bottom of a pan
  2. What do we call a material which does not allow heat to transfer easily?
    Conductors and insulators are opposites to one another
  3. Which of these materials is a better thermal conductor than the others?
    Metals conduct heat very well
  4. What would be a disadvantage of stirring a boiling pot with a metal spoon?
    Metal spoons can get very hot, especially when they've been left in the pot for a while!
  5. Why should oven gloves be made from materials which are good thermal insulators?
    Oven gloves protect our hands when we hold hot things
  6. Why do stainless steel pots often have wooden handles?
    Because it is an excellent thermal insulator, wooden handles will not burn your hands even when the pot is hot
  7. If you put frozen ice cream into a metal bowl, what would happen?
    Cold cannot transfer, or travel, from one material to another. Only heat can be transferred. Heat moves from warmer materials to cooler materials - when you go outside on a frosty day, heat is transferred from your warm face to the cold air!
  8. What do we call a material which can transfer heat easily?
    'Thermal' means to do with heat
  9. Which of the following would best protect ice cream from melting?
    Vacuum flasks are excellent thermal insulators - they can keep coffee piping hot. A material which can keep hot things hot can also keep cold things cold
  10. Which of these materials would be a better thermal insulator than the others?
    Gold, copper and steel are all metals and would make very poor thermal insulators

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