Curricular Connections

The vignettes and materials presented here will help you understand how the Possible Worlds resources can be integrated with your existing approach to these topics. They are intended to help you make connections between the core mechanics of the games and the phenomena related to common scientific misconceptions.

The game can help...

As students play the game, one of the greatest strategic challenges they will face is that they are only able to transfer heat energy 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.

Teaching Snapshot

A teacher explains to students that heat always transfers from hot to cold substances. Using the Possible Worlds PowerPoint, he points to the slide with the game’s conduction visualization. He explains how it shows that heat always moves from the hotter object and goes to the colder object, in this case through direct contact. He then instructs students to touch the plastic and metal parts of their chairs. He explains that, even though the plastic and the metal are the same temperature, and both are cooler than the student, the metal feels colder because it’s a conductor and the heat from their hands transfers to the metal. The teacher points again to the game’s conduction image and says, “So, this side, where heat is leaving from, might be your skin, and this side is the metal of the chair. Your hand gets cooler when you touch the metal because it’s losing heat to the metal.”

Heat Transfer Slideshow

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

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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.

 

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The game can help...

During gameplay, students will have to transfer energy through three possible ways: conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction occurs when two objects touch and heat is transferred from the warmer object to the colder one. During convection, heat is transferred through the movement of liquids or gases. Radiation occurs when heat transfers through space by electromagnetic radiation.

Teaching Snapshot

A teacher has defined the three types of heat transfer to his students and wants to clarify when and where each type of transfer takes place. He refers to the Feel the Heat activity they did earlier in the week, when they learned about conduction, and reminded students how that illustrated the way in which heat transfers between objects that are in direct contact. Then he refers to the Mix the Heat activity and reviews how heat was transferred when they mixed together liquids of different temperatures, and reminded students that convection is when heat transfers through the movement of liquids and gasses. Finally, he reviews their experiment with UV beads, which illustrated how heat from the sun, in the form of electromagnetic radiation (like light), is able to travel through a vacuum and reach the beads by radiation. The teacher then asks students to identify the different environments that are represented in Galactic Gloop Zoo. He projects Level 62 and asks, “What do each of these colors represent?” Students respond that orange, green, and blue environments represent water, gas, and a vacuum respectively. This leads to a discussion about what types of heat transfer happen in those different environments, and how they are represented in the game.

Heat Transfer Slideshow

Slides 5 and 6 explain that conduction occurs when two objects touch and heat is transferred from the warmer object to the colder one. Slide 11 gives an example of conduction. Slides 7 and 8 explain that radiation occurs when heat transfers through space by electromagnetic radiation. Slide 12 gives an example of radiation. Slides 9 and 10 explain that in convection, heat is transferred through the movement of liquids or gases. Slide 13 gives an example of convection.

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What the Textbooks Say

Usually textbooks devote a page or two to explaining the three forms of heat transfer:

  1. Conduction—heat transferred directly by touch
  2. Convection—heat transferred in gasses and liquids when hot and cold fluids move from place to place
  3. Radiation—heat transferred by electromagnetic radiation (light)

Students who understand the three types of heat transfer still may believe that only one type can occur at a time.

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The game can help...

One of the challenges students face is in understanding that heat transfer occurs from the warmer object to the colder one, and stops when the two objects reach the same temperature. This reflects the condition that net heat transfer stops when thermal equilibrium is achieved. During thermal equilibrium, the two objects are the same temperature and transfer energy back and forth at the same rate, meaning that no temperature change occurs.

Teaching Snapshot

A teacher explains that a hotter substance will give heat to a colder substance until they reach the same temperature; she says, “The temperatures will go toward equilibrium.” Then she uses the Split-the-Difference activity to illustrate this and to give students practice estimating what the resulting temperature would be when heat transfers between substances of different temperatures. Students work in groups of four and record the results of each round on a shared chart. After each group completes 10 rounds, the teacher asks students to compare how points are transferred between players in each round, and how the character in Galactic Gloop Zoo transfers heat to gloops or eggs. A student responds, “In the game, when you transfer heat to the gloop or the egg, Stan gives heat or takes heat to try to get to the same temperature.” The teacher launches the Teacher Feature Level 61 on the board, and calls on a student to complete the level by moving Stan to the egg. The teacher points out how Stan’s temperature decreases as he loses heat to the egg, to approach thermal equilibrium.

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What the Textbooks Say

Most texts explain thermal equilibrium as part of the discussion of thermal energy or of types of heat transfer. The main ideas are

  1. Heat energy moves only from warmer to cooler objects;
  2. Net heat transfer stops when the two objects reach the same temperature; and
  3. Heat energy is still being transferred between the two objects when thermal equilibrium is reached, even though the objects’ temperatures remain unchanged.

Sometimes students get the mistaken idea that an object can transfer all of its heat to another object.

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The game can help...

In the games, insulators only block the transfer of heat. Convection cannot occur if there is no gas present in the room.

Teaching Snapshot

A teacher describes insulators as substances through which heat flows slowly. She asks, “A wool blanket is a good insulator, so why does it feel warm when you wear one?” A student responds that the body heat moves slowly through the blanket so it gets trapped between the blanket and his skin, keeping him warm. The teacher then mentions, “A thermos is good insulator, so how can it keep a cold drink cold?” A student replies that since the thermos is a good insulator, energy from outside the thermos cannot travel into the liquid to warm it up, so the drink stays cold. The teacher then asks for some examples of insulators from the game, which leads to a discussion of different insulators the students see in their day-to-day lives.

Heat Transfer Slideshow

MARIAN- PLEASE CHECK - NOT SURE THE PPT EXPLICITLY ADDRESSES INSULATORS

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What the Textbooks Say

Most textbooks devote a page or two to the theory and use of insulators, explaining that an insulator is a substance through which heat flows slowly, and that gasses are generally better insulators than either liquids or solids.

Some students may get the mistaken idea that insulators can completely prevent any heat transfer, or that the insulators themselves produce heat.

See classroom activities related to Heat Transfer