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Which Metal Should a Pan Be Made Of?

based on 11 ratings
Author: Keren Perles
Topics: High School, Physics

Grade Level: 9th – 11th; Type: Physics

Objective:

This science project determines which metal has the highest rate of conductivity.

Research Questions:

  • Which type of metal has the highest rate of conductivity?
  • Which type of metal would make the best pot, pan, or cookie sheet?

Is it better to buy a pot made of copper or one made of aluminum? Would a brass cookie sheet work well? To answer these questions, you have to understand differences in heat conductivity between various types of metals. This science project will allow you to see how quickly heat travels through different metals.

Materials:

  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler
  • Brass, aluminum, and copper rods (same size, at least a foot long)
  • Candle
  • Match
  • Thumbtacks
  • Oven mitts

Experimental Procedure:

1. Use a permanent marker to make marks at 1-inch intervals on the three rods.

2. Light the candle and let a drop of melted wax fall onto the head of a thumbtack. Press the head of the thumbtack onto one of the marks on the brass rod. Repeat this process with more tacks until all of the marks have thumbtacks on them.

3. Attach thumbtacks to the other two rods, using the same method.

4. Blow out the candle. Let the wax on the three rods cool completely, for about ten minutes.

5. Light the candle again. Put the oven mitt on to protect your hand from the heat. Hold onto one end of the brass rod so that the other end of the rod hovers directly over the flame of the candle.

6. Record how long it takes for all of the tacks to fall off the rod. (For more detailed results, you can record how long it takes for each of the tacks to fall off.)

7. Calculate the rate at which the heat traveled along the rod. To do this, divide the length of the rod (in inches) by the time (in seconds) that it took for all of the tacks to fall off.

8. Wait until the brass rod has cooled completely. Reattach the tacks and repeat this process four more times. Record your data in a chart, such as the one below.

 

Material

Time Until Last Tack Fell

Brass

 

Brass

 

Brass

 

Brass

 

Brass

 

Aluminum

 

Aluminum

 

Aluminum

 

Aluminum

 

Aluminum

 

Copper

 

Copper

 

Copper

 

Copper

 

Copper

 

 

9. Repeat this process with the aluminum and copper rods as well.

10. Analyze your data. Which rod showed the highest conductivity? Which materials would work best as various types of pots, pans, or tins?

 

Terms/concepts: metal; conductivity

References: First Place Science Fair Projects for Inquisitive Kids, by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. Pp. 56-57.

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