heat conduction

You can use a temperature sensor to study the conduction of heat through materials. Two temperature sensors allow you to compare different materials at the same time. In this example, you heat strips of metal in a Bunsen flame and record the temperature change. The material which shows the faster temperature rise is a better heat conductor.

What you need

Different metal rods of identical size, clamps, stands, Bunsen burner, tape, interface and temperature sensors. Take care not to keep the sensors and their wires out of the Bunsen flame. Make sure they stay below their maximum rated temperature.

Setting up

Connect temperature sensors to two sockets on the interface. Tape the temperature probes to the ends of the metal rods. Use clamps to hold the sensors and rods.
Start your sensing software and see that it recognises the sensors you attach.
Set up your software to record for 5 minutes. Start recording and then move the rods into the Bunsen flame. Ensure that the rods are heated equally.


  • How does the graph tell you that the metals are getting hotter?
  • Does the graph tell you if heat is travelling through the metal? Could the temperature probes be getting warmer without the heat travelling through the metal?
  • How can you tell which of the rods gets hot fastest?
  • What do the graphs tell you about the two metals?
  • Teacher question: how can having a graph display help explain the conduction of heat?

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