Where do you see this in your own life? Asking students to suggest examples

Heat fluxes are a topic that at first seems pretty theoretical, but with which we have tons of experiences in our everyday lives! A quick brainstorm for where we experience different types of heat fluxes gives so many examples:

  • having a lid on a pot suppresses convective heat fluxes beyond the lid!
  • coming out of the water on a windy day feels so much colder than on a non-windy day of the same temperature!
  • getting pasta water to boil on a windy camping trip is a lot more difficult than on a low-wind day
  • standing close to the fire makes one side of you feel toasty while the other side might be getting really cold
  • similarly, when sitting at an outdoor restaurant heated with those gas mushroom heaters, even holding a hand between your face and the heater will make your face feel noticeably colder
  • standing on a metal floor feels a lot colder than on a carpet of the same temperature

Asking students to come up with their own examples to discuss makes discussions a lot more fun and a lot more relevant to their own lives. Suddenly, a theoretical discussion becomes about explaining their own experiences, and possibly informing future actions (like for example with how to best cool a beer bottle on a hike). This works for any topic and opens up a whole new world to students when they suddenly see the topic applied in situations that they, or their peers, have personal experience with!

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