Heat loss experiment

This resource takes the class through the stages of writing a science experiment and teaches learners how to write instructions.

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It includes a matching exercise for the equipment needed and slides on variables, safety precautions and writing a conclusion.

Although the resource focuses on an investigation to measure whether heat is lost more quickly from a black or silver test tube, many of the slides can be changed so that they can be used for different experiments. There is some written work for pupils so that they write up the experiment as they go along but many of the activities are spoken and designed so that pupils can work in pairs and develop language in this way.


You will need:

  • a copy of the PowerPoint presentation Heat loss experiment
  • black and silver test tubes
  • measuring cylinders
  • stopwatches (or stop clocks)
  • thermometers
  • test tube racks
  • You will need enough for pupils to work in pairs or small groups.
  • You will also need safety glasses for each pupil and a kettle to boil water.
  • projector and whiteboard.

You will need to:

  • boil the kettle and set up equipment
  • make sure that pupils are aware of the safety precautions.

Curriculum Objectives

  • To be able to conduct an experiment into whether heat is lost more quickly from a black or silver test tube
  • To describe how black surfaces absorb heat whereas silver surfaces reflect it
  • To write up an experiment

Language/Literacy Objectives

Function(s) – Structure(s)

Giving instructions – fill the kettle, wait until it boils, switch, boil, pour, put, stir, let, remove, add

Describing – … is dangerous, it can cause …

Predicting – I think … will …

Drawing conclusions – the … because …, it …


measure, measuring cylinder, thermometer, test tube, test tube rack, kettle, stopwatch, independent, dependent, variable, control, precaution, scalding, infra-red radiation, absorb, reflect

This resource could be used …

  • with the whole class

Ideas for Using the Resource

What to do

  • Set up the PowerPoint. Slides 3–5 are a starter activity and are designed to make learners think about how to give instructions. This is a structured speaking activity and learners should work in pairs so that they can practise the language together.
  • Learners then make their prediction by copying the phrase on Slide 6 and deleting either black or silver depending on what they think will happen. They will need an equipment list, and Slide 7 provides a visual reminder of the names of what they will use as this may be new vocabulary for some. Slide 8 allows the learners to discuss the variables and control with their partner.
  • The method is covered in Slides 9–13. It may be easier to do this after the experiment when learners know what they did. Those who are more confident may be able to complete the instructions using the words on Slide 9 but others will need the structures on the later slides.
  • The risk assessment slides (14 and 15) again encourage learners to work in pairs and to discuss the risks involved in the experiment.
  • Slide 16 provides a very tight structure for the beginning of the conclusion. Slide 17 just gives the information needed to construct a paragraph of analysis. Learners may have much more information to give if they have learnt about radiation in more depth and should be encouraged to do so.

Possible Extension Activities

  • The starter could be used as a separate resource before learners write up a different investigation as a way of teaching instruction writing.
  • Slides can be modified quite easily to fit different experiments.

Other ideas for making the best use of this resource

  • Learners could write a description of what they did, the next time they conduct an investigation. They could then swap this with their partner who needs to turn it into a set of instructions.

Resource downloads

On the right hand side of this page are a number of documents that you can download for free. Please note that the Teaching Notes and Resources can be found in the pdf document (the first item on the list), whilst the PowerPoint document(s) include(s) presentation(s) which you can display on your interactive board in your classroom.

Licence information

© The Bell Educational Trust Limited. This resource is free to use for educational purposes.

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