Unit Plan

Save the Penguins: An Introduction to Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer

Heat things up in your physical science class with this interactive lesson series on thermodynamics. Through a series of class demonstrations and experiments, young scientists learn how heat is transferred through conduction, convention, and radiation before applying this knowledge in the design of a device that prevents an ice cube from melting.

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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas
  • Include this lesson series in a physical science unit on energy and energy transfer
  • Extend learning by having students research different kinds of materials and technology that scientists and engineers have developed to prevent heat transfer
Classroom Considerations
  • This unit can be used across a range of upper-elementary and middle school grade levels by adjusted the depth to which the scientific concepts are covered
  • Unit is meant to be supported by a kit of STEM materials which can be purchased online, but an inventory of the required supplies is provided allowing teachers to gather the materials on their own
  • Lessons requires considerable preparation, so be sure to plan ahead and enlist the help of a classroom aide and/or parent and student volunteers
  • Clear step-by-step directions are provided for each lesson, activity, and demonstration in this unit
  • Each lesson offers extension activities that create cross-curricular connections
  • Photographs are included throughout the plan that demonstrate different aspects of the unit
  • This unit is designed specifically for the Next Generation Science Standards
  • None