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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. People are often reminded about the importance of insulation - especially when it comes to saving energy in the home. But what is insulation, what does it do and why is it important? And why don't we hear as much about conductors?

Try this science quiz to see how well you understand thermal insulators and conductors.

  1. When heat can transfer easily through a material, that material is called a .......
    2 -
  2. Materials which do not allow heat to transfer easily through them are called .......
    1 -
  3. Why should oven gloves be made from materials which are good thermal insulators?
    3 -
  4. Which of these materials is a better thermal conductor than the others?
    2 - Metals conduct heat very well
  5. Which of these materials would be a better thermal insulator than the others?
    4 - Gold, copper and steel are all metals and would make very poor thermal insulators
  6. Why do stainless steel pots often have wooden handles?
    2 - 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?
    1 - 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. Which of the following would best protect ice cream from melting?
    4 - 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
  9. Plastic is a good thermal insulator. Where would you see plastic used?
    3 -
  10. What would be a disadvantage of stirring a boiling pot with a metal spoon?
    2 - Metal spoons can get very hot, especially when they've been left in the pot for a while!

Author: Sheri Smith

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