Activity Introduction

snappy-science-heroQuick summary: Students observe a simple experiment demonstrating convection, one of the three ways that heat can be transferred (the other ways are conduction and radiation).

mod logoThese Snappy Science resources have been created to boost science education in primary schools across Australia. Each lesson is designed to support teachers with the scientific knowledge, ideas and resources to stimulate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students. Many of the big issues that Australian society will face in the future are around technology, energy, resources and climate change. All of these require students to engage with science – but most of all to enjoy science!

Science at Home: These Snappy Science resources can also be used to engage families in fun science and learning for life. You can download a student friendly version of this activity here and you can also check out the Snappy Science Digital Library.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Australian Curriculum content description: This activity is relevant to Science Inquiry Skills across all primary year levels of the Australian Curriculum.

Year 1 Science

  • Everyday materials can be physically changed in a variety of ways (ACSSU018)

Year 3 Science

  • A change of state between solid and liquid can be caused by adding or removing heat (ACSSU046)

Year 5 Science

  • Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways (ACSSU077)

Syllabus OutcomesST1-12MW, ST2-7PW.

Time required: 10 – 15 minutes.

Resources required: Large glass jar or beaker, mall cup or beaker (it needs to fit inside the larger jar), food colouring, knife, plastic wrap, rubber band, almost boiling water.

Safety advice: This activity requires boiling water and a knife – depending on student age and ability this activity may be either a student-led experiment or a teacher-led demonstration.

Keywords: Convection, current, heat, water, boiling.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

snappy-science-heroBrief summary:

Students observe a simple experiment demonstrating convection, one of the three ways that heat can be transferred (the other ways are conduction and radiation).

Students can use the Predict, Observe, Explain table on the Student Worksheet to describe and reflect upon this experiment.

For more information about the processes occurring in this experiment, watch the following clip (NOTE: this clip demonstrates a more complex version of this experiment - consider adding blue coloured ice-cubes to your beaker to replicate this experiment):

Warm Air Rises - Cold Water Sinks, Warm Water Rises (

You will need:

  • Large glass jar or beaker
  • Small cup or beaker (it needs to fit inside the jar)
  • Food colouring
  • Knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber band
  • Water

What to do:

Step 1. Fill the small cup or beaker with very hot (almost boiling) water and add several drops of food colouring.

Step 2. Stretch the plastic wrap smoothly over the top of the cup a

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Student Worksheet

In this experiment you will be experimenting with CONVECTION.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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