Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
This activity encourages practical enquiry skills in the area of 'Energy, electricity and forces'.
Year groups: 7-9 (ages 11-14)
To see how effective water is at conducting heat away from a paper cup.
Fireproof Paper activity sheet
Download student activity sheet [pdf]
It is important that you use a single-walled cup so that the heat can easily transfer into the water.
Make sure that the candle flame is positioned in the centre of the cup's bottom with the hottest part of the flame almost touching the cup. You need the water to heat up as quickly as possible to finish the activity before the paper gets too soggy and the water drains or simmers away. With no water, the paper will take the full heat and will catch fire.
We've tried a Bunsen burner, but have found that a candle is more effective (and less likely to set the cup on fire!).
Never leave this experiment unattended.
Suits developed for troops and pilots working in hot conditions use a pump to circulate cold water round a network of plastic pipes each as thick as a human artery.
Liquid-cooled suit, c. 1955
Solar water heating (SWH) is a system for heating water using energy from the Sun. Heat from the Sun (solar energy) is collected by a panel, which is placed on a roof and connected by pipes to a hot-water storage device such as a hot-water cylinder.