How to Teach Specific Heat





Introduction: How to Teach Specific Heat

By (overcoming a fear) and putting fire in their mouth , students will be really interested in specific heat.
This is the best way to teach specific heat to high school students.

Step 1: Gather the Supplies stirrers WOOD ONLY

Step 2: Light the Coffee Stirrer

Light the coffee stirrer with the lighter.

Step 3: Place Carefully in Your Mouth

Place carefully in your mouth while being careful not to touch the sides of your mouth.
(you will not be burned because of water's specific heat)

Step 4: One at a Time Place in Each of Your Students Mouth

One at a time place in each of your students mouth.(some of them will chicken out)

Step 5: Make Sure to Explain the Science of Specific Heat the Whole Time.

Make sure to explain the science of specific heat the whole time.



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    This reminds me of a bar trick my buddle would play where he could extinguish a cigar on the palm of his hand. He made up some ritual (hokus pokus type crap) and everyone (partially drunk) would think that was part of the procedure. In actuality, he had placed a piece of ice on his palm under the table. He would drop the ice under the table and say the "magic" words and then slowly push the cigar against his palm to extinguish it. Two things played into this - water as you mentioned and also his palm was close to freezing.

    The best part is about 30 minutes later, you could hear someone on the other side of the bar trying the trick without the secret. The loud scream always gave it away.

    Lick your fingers and use them to extinguish a candle. This is the old, smokeless way of putting out candles, and most of your great grandparents would have done this daily. (Although, as with your example, you actually have two concepts at play - high specific heat of water and the high temperature but low heat in the flame-finger interaction. )

    The issue with the mouth is that it is much scarier, the engagement can be got with the candle trick, and you don't have the problem of hair getting in the way if the kid flinches at the last minute.
    And practice, repeatedly, before you try it out on a live student :)

    Another spectacular demo is to pour molten pewter into water. For a 30g glob of pewter at 350 degrees into 150 ml of water, you will get a temperature rise of only 3 degrees (K or C). NEVER USE ANY METAL OTHER THAN TIN/PEWTER. Sorry to shout, but I can just see someone using zinc or aluminium, both of which are reactive enough at these temperatures to dissociate the water into hydrogen gas, which is an explosion hazard.

    Anyway, good on you for teaching in an experiential style. It is great teaching, if done competently by a skilled teacher.

    I believe you can design engaging lessons without opening yourself up to the legal problem this activity would produce. You remind me of a science teacher we had that blew 2 of his fingers off making root beer in the classroom. Some ideas seem great but...

    Ha ha. Lol, this must be a wind up? I agree it's a fantastic idea................. If you want to loose your job & potentially get your ass sued into next millennium! Great wind up :)

    Fire burns, this is a stupid idea.
    You propose to put burning-wood in people's mouths while explaining the science of specific heat the whole time...?


    2 replies

    A teacher should carefully weigh the benefits of teaching science in a very engaging manner with the negative danger of stripping away the basic fear of fire. My science teacher introduced specific heat to me this way and I am eternally grateful. I chickened out at the time :)

    Hmm, I didn't think that you'd actually done this, you really should if you're presenting this as a good idea (or don't present it as such).


    Wood or plastic coffee stirrers? I'm guessing the wood type since the plastic ones are likely to melt and burn your mouth and tongue VERY badly.

    1 reply

    WOOD ONLY thanks for pointing this out, this is very important.