Heated Exchange Project

Improving the efficiency of a system

Overview of Project:

Thermal energy (Thermal = heat, energy = motion) Thermal energy is heat in motion. Heat travels in three different ways by processes called conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction is the transfer of heat from one molecule to another. Convection is the transfer of heat by the circulation or movement of the heated parts of a liquid or gas. Radiation is a method of heat transfer that does not rely upon any contact between the heat source and the heated object as is the case with conduction and convection. Heat can be transmitted though empty space by thermal radiation often called infrared radiation. Knowing about these three types of heat flow, it's easy to see lots of ways in which a home is leaking heat to the freezing cold world all around it.

Heat travels by conduction through the solid walls and roof of a home. On the outside, the outer walls and the roof tiles are hotter than the atmosphere around them, so the cold air near to them heats up and flows away by convection.

The more heat escapes from a home, the colder it gets inside, this increases costs to you. The more you use your heating, the more fuel has to be burned somewhere (either in your own home or in a power plant), the more carbon dioxide gas is produced, and the worse global warming becomes. It's far better to insulate your home and use good construction techniques to reduce heat losses.

Students will build a house structure given general criteria for design, construction materials and goal endpoint of the design.

After construction of the house structure, students will also use an ipad infra-cam imaging app to determine which parts of their structural design allow the greatest transfer of thermal energy as generated from a light bulb inside the structure.

Students will measure heat loss at 7 specific points on their structure and take Thermal-cam imaging pictures – 4 sides of structure and roof of structure.


Energy costs are skyrocketing, fossil fuel availability is running low and alternative energy resources are not fully integrated into middle class society. As a scientist studying energy efficiency and energy conservation your main goal is to reduce energy costs by improving energy efficiency of homes. You will construct a model of a home, record temperature measurements and thermal images at specific sites. After analyzing the data, you will make energy efficiency improvements of the home and record temperature measurements and thermal images at the same specific sites. You will then present your data and analysis information within a Google Slide Presentation to your research foundation.

The Process:

1. For this project, you will be constructing a house with specific design
requirements (4 walls, roof, 4 windows, 1 door).

  • materials:
  • 3 sheets of cardstock
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • rule
  • temperature data collection sheet
  • ipad with thermal imaging app
  • temperature probe

2. Construct a house that has 4 windows, 4 walls, 1 door and roof using the 3 sheets of card stock and tape, number windows 1,2,3,4

3. After your house construction is complete, place your house over the heat source and allow to acclimate for 5 minutes.

4. After the 5 min. acclimation period, record temperature data at each of the windows, door, roof and 1 corner and record in the appropriate column on your data collection worksheet.

5. Using the thermal image app on the ipad, take a picture of each side and the roof of your house.

6. Work with your group members to analyze the temperature data and thermal images to determine where heat loss is occurring.

7. After your group has determined where energy is being "lost", decide where to make energy improvements on the house and which materials will be used.

8. After energy improvements have been made, you will again take temperature measurements (record on data worksheet) and thermal images at the same sites to determine if your improvements have had a positive or negative effect.

9. Using the data on your worksheet, compute the % change for each data point to see the percentage improvement of the efficiency of your house.

Managing files and data:

10. One person in each group will create a folder labeled "science energy project", then share with students in the group.

11. Create a Google presentation document and move to the shared Science energy project folder.

12. Put the shared data collection worksheet in your "science energy project" folder.

13. Create a thermal image picture folder in your "science energy project" folder.

14. Your final Google Presentation will include: Students will work in groups to complete a Google Slide presentation with the following

Slide 1 – Title Slide – include group member names & Science class block
Slide 2 – answers to 5 questions from Google Classroom assignment on Energy (one question per slide)
Slide 7 – Introduction to Energy Project
Slide 8 -12 Thermal Cam pictures comparison between Thermal Cam pics before and after energy efficiency improvements (4 sides and roof)
Slide 13 – Data Table
Slide 14 – Conclusion
Slide 15 – discussion of possible points of error

Questions for Google Slide Presentation: Select the link in each question to locate information to answer the question.
1. What is energy?
2. How do consumers in the United States use energy?
3. How is energy used in homes?

4. What contributes to the diversity of energy use in family homes?
5. Explain the difference between energy efficiency and energy conservation?

Comment Stream