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

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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!

1.
Why should oven mitts be made from materials which are good thermal insulators?
Oven mitts made from good thermal insulators will be more comfortable
Oven mitts made from good thermal insulators will keep the food hot
Oven mitts made from good thermal insulators will protect hands from being burned
Good thermal insulators will keep the oven hot
Oven mitts protect our hands when we hold hot things
2.
Which of these materials would be a better thermal insulator than the others?
Gold
Steel
Copper
Wool
Gold, copper and steel are all metals and would make very poor thermal insulators
3.
If you put frozen ice cream into a metal bowl, what would happen?
Warmth would travel from the bowl to the ice cream
Warmth would travel from the ice cream to the bowl
Cold would travel from the bowl to the ice cream
Cold would travel from the ice cream to the bowl
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!
4.
Which of the following would best protect ice cream from melting?
A metal bowl with a lid
A plastic cup
An ice cream cone
A thermos bottle
Thermos bottles are excellent thermal insulators - they can keep coffee piping hot. A material which can keep hot things hot can also keep cold things cold
5.
Why do stainless steel pots often have wooden handles?
Wood is a good thermal conductor
Wood is a good thermal insulator
Wood is a good electrical insulator
It is not possible to make handles out of steel
Because it is an excellent thermal insulator, wooden handles will not burn your hands even when the pot is hot
6.
What do we call a material which can transfer heat easily?
A thermal insulator
A thermal conductor
An electrical insulator
An electrical conductor
'Thermal' means to do with heat
7.
What would be a disadvantage of stirring a boiling pot with a metal spoon?
Cold would travel from your hand to the boiling pot
Heat would travel from the boiling pot to your hand
Metal spoons don't make enough noise while you're stirring
Metal spoons don't stir very well
Metal spoons can get very hot, especially when they've been left in the pot for a while!
8.
Plastic is a good thermal insulator. Where would you see plastic used?
For the base (bottom) of a skillet
For the inside of a cooker
For the handle of an electric kettle
For the base of an iron
Plastic would melt if it got too hot so it would be no good inside a cooker or on the bottom of a pan
9.
Which of these materials is a better thermal conductor than the others?
Brick
Aluminium
Wood
Paper
Metals conduct heat very well
10.
What do we call a material which does not allow heat to transfer easily?
A thermal insulator
A thermal conductor
An electrical insulator
An electrical conductor
Conductors and insulators are opposites to one another
Author:  Sheri Smith

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