Does Water Temperature Cause Metal to Expand and Contract?

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Author: Sofia PC

Grade Level: 3rd-5th; Type: Chemistry


Discover how water temperature affects metal.

Research Questions:

  • Does metal change in response to temperature?
  • What happens when a metal contracts or expands?


All matter tends to change shape and volume in response to changes in temperature, a process called thermal expansion. In this experiment, we'll observe the effects of thermal expansion on metal, which is an excellent conductor for heat.


  • Two identical containers with tight-fitting metal vacuum lids, such as pickle jars
  • Hot and cold running water
  • Protective gloves
  • Stop watch

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Run cold water over one container, right side up, for 30 minutes. Then try to open it. Time how long it takes to open.
  2. Now run hot water over the second container for 30 minutes. Time how long it takes to open.
  3. Record your results.

Terms/Concepts: Molecular order; contraction/expansion in relevance to heat; Metals


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