Activity Introduction

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

These 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 3 Science

  • Heat can be produced in many ways and can move from one object to another (ACSSU049)

Year 5 Science

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

Year 6 Science

  • Changes to materials can be reversible, such as melting, freezing, evaporating; or irreversible, such as burning and rusting (ACSSU095)

Syllabus OutcomesST2-6PW, ST2-7PW, ST3-12MW.

Time required: 10 – 15 minutes.

Resources required: Lighter, candle, paper cup, water, tongs.

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

Keywords: Conduction, 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

Brief summary:

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

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

You will need:

  • Lighter
  • Candle
  • Paper cup
  • Water
  • Tongs

What to do:

Step 1. Fill the cup about 2/3 full with water.

Step 2. Light the candle then use the tongs to hold the cup close to the candle without letting it touch. Ask students to consider whether they think the cup will catch on fire.

Step 3. Continue to hold the cup over the flame until the water starts to boil (this could take up to 5 minutes). The water will begin to produce steam and the cup will NOT catch on fire.

How does it work?

The paper cup heated by the flame conducts heat from the air to the water.  As a result, the paper stays cool. The temperature at which water boils is lower than the temperature at

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Student Worksheet

In this experiment you will be experimenting with CONDUCTION.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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