One of the great joys of the world is understanding how it works and students learning about physics begin to open the window to the world’s working. Of course physics is a practical science and in order to optimize student learning the need for good physics apparatus is paramount. That apparatus needs to be easy to use, durable and designed with outcomes in mind.

Practical activities are not just motivational and fun: they can also sharpen students’ powers of observation, stimulate questions, and help develop new understanding and vocabulary.
Good quality, appropriate physics experiments and investigations are the key to enhanced learning, and clarification and consolidation of theory.

Thermal energy is an important topic in the classroom and so in this blog we look at 6 essential pieces of equipment when teaching students about it.

A calorimeter is used to measure the heat energy, of a reaction. Calorimeters can vary in quality. Simple calorimeters are used in secondary school labs. They are often known as coffee cup calorimeters but much more sophisticated calorimeters are used in industry.

Today, there are a variety of types of thermometers. The type that most of us are familiar with from the science classroom is the type that consists of a liquid encased in a narrow glass column. These liquid thermometers are based on the principle of thermal expansion. When a substance gets hotter, it expands to a greater volume. Nearly all substances exhibit this behaviour of thermal expansion. It is the basis of the design and operation of thermometers.

Bi-metal Strip
This consists of a bimetallic strip attached to a wooden handle. Gentle heating causes the strip to bend into a pronounced curve demonstrating that different metals expand by different amounts.
A bimetallic strip consists of two different materials with different expansion coefficients that are bonded together. When this bimetallic strip is heated, the brass expands more than the steel and the strip curves with the brass on the outside. If the strip is cooled, it curves with the steel on the outside. In practical applications bimetallic strips can be used as switches in thermostats.

Thermistor System
Ohm’s law relates the resistance of a component to its voltage and current. Applying circuit rules for current and voltage with Ohm’s Law allows us to formulate rules to determine total resistance.
This apparatus contains a Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) bead thermistor with a nominal resistance of 4.7kΩ in a glass tube with electrical connection made by means of 4mm flying leads. A thermistor is an inexpensive and easily obtainable temperature sensitive resistor. When temperature changes, the resistance of the thermistor changes in a predictable way. The benefits of using a thermistor is accuracy and stability.

Leslie’s Radiation Plate
This apparatus allows the demonstration of the dramatic differences in radiated heat from various surfaces. Being electrically heated it is more convenient than some of the more conventional methods involving water or Bunsen flames for example.

Thermal Insulation System
This apparatus permits the simple or detailed study of the benefits of using house insulation to reduce energy consumption. A thermostatically controlled hot plate is provided with provision for monitoring the input power to the electric heaters. Temperatures in the range 25 to 600C can be used. 6 felt pads are supplied so that the effect of increasing insulation thickness can be investigated together with an air cell double glazing panel. Observations involve timing the on/off periods for the heater. Provision is made for data-logger monitoring of all variables but a simple stopwatch is sufficient if required. Connections are by standard 4mm leads.

Lascells and Thermal Energy

Lascells has been manufacturing equipment for science education from its factory in the UK for more than 20 years. We pride ourselves on quality, customer service and meeting the needs of a demanding subject.
Help your students prepare for a career in science and engineering through hands on practical experimentation.

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