Energy Transfer

Investigation - The instructor will pass out two blocks, one labeled A, and the other B.

  • Mass - Measure the mass of each with a balance or scale.
  • Volume - measure the length, height and width of the blocks in centimeters and then calculate the volume of the blocks in milliliters (1 cc = 1 mL)
  • Density - calculate the density in g/mL
  • Temperature - Measure the temperature of each by holding an Infrared thermometer (see below) 10 cm directly above the center of the surface, and record your observations in the form.
  • Electrical Resistance - Measure the electrical resistance from one side to the other of blocks A and B. Report your values in ohms.
  • Sensation - Now hold the blocks in your hands and compare how they feel to the touch and record your observations in the form.
  • Observations - Make any additional observations
  • Predictions - Predict which block will melt the ice faster, and state your reasons
  • Test your predictions - After making your prediction, place an equivalent amount of ice in the center of each block, and surround it with the o-ring to collect water. Place a towel below the block to collect the water. Record the time required to melt an equivalent amount of ice on each block, and record your results.
  • Movie - Take a movie of the melting of both pieces of ice and upload to the Dropbox account

Infrared thermometer - An infrared thermometer is a device which infers temperature from a portion of the thermal radiation sometimes called blackbody radiation emitted by the object being measured. They are sometimes calledlaser thermometers if a laser is used to help aim the thermometer, or non-contact thermometers or temperature guns, to describe the device's ability to measure temperature from a distance. By knowing the amount of infrared energy emitted by the object and its emissivity, the object's temperature can often be determined. Infrared thermometers are a subset of devices known as "thermal radiation thermometers". (Wikipedia)

Multimeter - A multimeter or a multitester, also known as a VOM (Volt-Ohm meter), is an electronic measuring instrument that combines several measurement functions in one unit. A typical multimeter would include basic features such as the ability to measure voltage, current, and resistance. Analog multimeters use a microammeter whose pointer moves over a scale calibrated for all the different measurements that can be made. Digital multimeters (DMM, DVOM) display the measured value in numerals, and may also display a bar of a length proportional to the quantity being measured. (from Wikipedia)

Micrometer - A micrometer (/maɪˈkrɒmɨtər/ US dict: mī·krŏm′·ĭ·tər), sometimes known as a micrometer screw gauge, is a device incorporating a calibrated screw widely used for precise measurement of components in mechanical engineering and machining as well as most mechanical trades, along with other metrological instruments such as dial, vernier, and digital calipers. Micrometers are usually, but not always, in the form of calipers (opposing ends joined by a frame), which is why micrometer caliper is another common name. The spindle is a very accurately machined screw and the object to be measured is placed between the spindle and the anvil. The spindle is moved by turning the ratchet knob or thimble until the object to be measured is lightly touched by both the spindle and the anvil. (from Wikipedia)

Discuss the results of this investigation

Analysis - Answer the following questions in the quick write as directed.

  • Which block did the majority of people predict would melt the ice fastest?
  • Which block melted the ice fastest?
  • What is the relationship between electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity?
  • Offer a hypothesis/explanation for why this occurred.
  • Compare elements in the periodic table according to their density. Which element do you suspect block A is made of?

For the teacher

Next Generation Science Standards NGSS

  • Which Science and Engineering Practices were addressed?
  • Which Cross-Cutting Concepts were addressed?
  • What Disciplinary Core Ideas were addressed?


  • What applications to every-day life arise from this investigation?
  • Arbor Scientific