How Cold Is Cold?

by: Richard Konicek-Moran

Heat and cold are often difficult concepts for children to understand. First, our everyday sloppy language gives them a predisposition to such common misconceptions as cold being a substance that moves from place to place. Our colloquial language often reinforces the existence of “cold energy,” when it is scientifically acceptable to refer only to heat as a form of energy that is transferred from a warmer object to a cooler one and that cold is an absence of heat. Therefore, this story tries to set the stage for discussions and inquiry into the nature of temperature and heat and to the fact that heat exchange is the cause of what scientists call a phase change—when something goes from liquid to solid or vice versa. In essence, this may be the students’ first encounter with the laws of thermodynamics.

Grade Levels

High School Middle School


Inquiry Instructional Materials Physical Science


Type Book ChapterPub Date 4/1/2008Stock # PB220X_18

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