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Direction of Transfer

The game can help...

As students play the game, one of the greatest strategic challenges they will face is that they are able to transfer heat energy only from the warmer object to the colder object. This reflects the reality that, under natural circumstances, heat energy always moves from warmer to colder objects.

Heat Transfer Slideshow

Slides 5 and 6 explain that heat transfers from hotter objects to colder ones.

Download slideshow PPT

What the Textbooks Say

Most middle-school textbooks begin their coverage of heat transfer with a discussion of temperature and how it relates to thermal energy, and cover a number of interrelated ideas.

  1. Temperature is a measure of kinetic (motion) energy: More kinetic energy = warmer, less kinetic energy = cooler.
  2. Thermal energy is the sum of all kinetic and potential energy in a substance.
  3. Heat is the thermal energy that flows from a warmer object to a cooler object.
  4. Heat flows only one way, from warmer to cooler objects.
  5. Net heat transfer ends when two objects reach the same temperature (“thermal equilibrium”).

Students may have the mistaken ideas that cold can flow into a warm object to cool it, or that both heat and cold transfer between objects at the same time.


See classroom activities related to Heat Transfer