Conductors and Insulators
Students will classify matter based on physical properties, including mass, magnetism, physical state (solid, liquid, and gas), relative density (sinking and floating), solubility in water, and the ability to conduct or insulate thermal energy or electric energy.
The student knows that (1) matter has measurable physical properties and (2) those properties determine how matter is classified, changed and used.
Conductors, Insulators, and Electron Flow: Magcraft (website) - Learn why certain materials conduct electricity, and why others are insulators.
Thermodynamics: Physics4Kids (website) - Review thermodynamic principles of heat conduction and insulation.
Thermal Insulators and Conductors, Molecular: US Department of Energy Office of Science (website) - Background information and discussion—in the form of a “Q&A”—about molecular factors involved in electrical conduction and insulation.
Conductors and Insulators: University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign (website) - Students use a simple circuit to test a variety of materials, classify each material as either an electrical conductor or insulator, and explain the difference between a conductor and insulator.
Insulators: NASA eClips Educator Guide (PDF) - Students explore and classify the thermal insulating properties of different materials. Students review their understanding of insulators and conductors, relate their knowledge to the Hubble Space Telescope’s thermal blanket, and work in teams to test the insulating properties of cups made of three different materials.
- Supporting Lessons
- Assessment Ideas
- Literature Connections
- Additional Resources
Insulators: Utah Education Network (website) – Students investigate the insulating properties of four types of spoons, and then apply their knowledge to design the perfect hot chocolate cup.
Elaboration Lessons and Extensions
Building an Insulated Water Bottle: Power Sleuth (PDF) - Students compare the insulating properties of a variety of materials. Using their knowledge of heat transfer, they design insulated water bottles.
Insulation Experimentation: Utah Education Network (website) - In this inquiry lesson, students investigate how conduction and other processes enable heat to move between objects.
Conductors and Insulators: Consumers Energy (PDF) - Students learn about the nature of electricity and identify conductors and insulators by using a simple circuit to test the conductivity of various materials.
Give students a simple circuit, attached to a battery and a light bulb. Provide a variety of labeled objects; have students predict and then test each item, and make a list of objects that complete the circuit.
Conductors and Insulators (My World of Science). Royston, A. (ISBN-13: 978-1432914653)
Conductors and Insulators (It’s Electric!). Oxlade, Chris (ISBN-13: 978-1432956783)
Heat Transfer: Science Games for Kids (website) - Students test the characteristics of different materials to learn about heat transfer and how to keep things warm.
Circuits and Conductors: Science Games for Kids (website) - Students experiment with conductors and power sources to determine which of the sample materials conduct electricity best (and least).
Rader’s Physics4Kids: Physics4Kids (website) - Basic physics information for kids and adults, covering topics such as motion, heat and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, light, and more.