Scantherma does STAWA

We were excited with the opportunity to showcase the use of thermal imaging technology for teachers and students alike at the Science Teacher’s Association of WA (STAWA) Future Science Conference 2012, held on November 30th at the Crawley Campus of the University of Western Australia.

The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” underlines the importance of visual learning in education. Thermal imaging represents a new generation of technology that fosters science education, focusing on Science Inquiry Skills and any of the Science Understandings sub-strands: biological, chemical, physical and Earth and space sciences, and providing rich visual information. The technology adds a richness and value to a teacher’s delivery of the Australian Curriculum by making the underlying concepts “speak for themselves”, which in turn can motivate students to explore them further. Thermal imaging has also been widely used to film and study animal and plant behaviours, as often seen on the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. The applications for the science education sector are endless!

Our qualified physicist and trained high school teacher, Roland Lockhart was on hand to show off some cool, hands-on experiments that got people engaged in the opportunities thermal imaging provided to make teaching science more visual and interesting. The experiments provided a visual way to explain heat transfer, conduction, convection, radiation, heat capacity, light absorption and many more concepts.

One experiment that really got attendees going was the one that asked the question, “Why do real leaves feel colder than fake leaves?”. We showed, using thermal imaging, how it is caused by the fact that a fresh leaf is capable of absorbing more heat from a finger. This difference comes from the water stored in the spongy layer of a fresh leaf that a dry leaf has lost. To confirm this theory, we did another experiment using a wet sponge to simulate a fresh leaf and a dry sponge to simulate a dry leaf. To stop the evaporative cooling effect from the wet sponge, we used plastic film to wrap it up. The dry sponge was also wrapped to ensure identical emissivity. The thermal images of the sponges show a similar difference as is in the case of the leaves. The results of this experiment also explains why hypothermia is more likely in cold water than in cold air.

These two experiments compared the heat transfer from fingers to a dry leaf and a fresh leaf (upper) and from a wet sponge to a dry sponge (lower), which suggested the role of water content on storing heat. Many other important questions were explored, including “Which colour absorbs more light energy?” and “Why do people (in countries in Europe and North America) spread salt on the roads in winter?”

 

 

High school chemistry tells us that the dissolving of table salt (NaCl) is endothermic (heat-absorbing). With thermal imaging, we can easily show this cooling effect when we add salt to water. The upper images show water cooled down when salt was added. However, the temperature difference reverses over time, which is known as “vapour pressure lowering”. The lower images show, after the salt was completely dissolved, that the salt water became warmer.

High school chemistry tells us that the dissolving of table salt (NaCl) is endothermic (heat-absorbing). With thermal imaging, we can easily show this cooling effect when we add salt to water. The upper images show water cooled down when salt was added. However, the temperature difference reverses over time, which is known as “vapour pressure lowering”. The lower images show, after the salt was completely dissolved, that the salt water became warmer.

This thermal image shows that adding salt to ice (to melt it) resulted in cooling that was much more significant than adding baking soda to ice. No wonder this method is still used to freeze the ice cream mixture for making ice cream at home quickly!

This thermal image shows that adding salt to ice (to melt it) resulted in cooling that was much more significant than adding baking soda to ice. No wonder this method is still used to freeze the ice cream mixture for making ice cream at home quickly!

Many other important questions were explored, including “Which colour absorbs more light energy?” and “Why do people (in countries in Europe and North America) spread salt on the roads in winter?”

Special Offer for Schools!

If you are in the education sector and would like to use this fantastic technology in your classrooms, visit this link to take advantage of our very special, one-off price on FLIR cameras: http://www.scantherma.com.au/education