In this activity, students construct a model that will allow them to experiment with thermal convection, illustrating how thermal energy can generate a flowing motion in a fluid. The thermal convection in this model is similar to the convection that is inferred for the Earth’s mantle and can produce horizontal flow that can cause or is related to plate motions.
This article, by David Goodstein of Caltech, describes the predictions of the peak in the US and world oil production. The formation of oil is discussed, along with the possibility that as-yet-undiscovered oil fields exist. The article discusses coal and also possible renewable energy sources.
In the demonstration, students observe a visual convection current in the classroom and compare it to the images of convection cells in the Sun taken from the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) instrument on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. Students also hear or read background information about convection cells on Earth and in the Sun and view a labeled cutaway diagram of the Sun.
In this activity, students observe fluid motion and the formation of convection cells as a solution of soap and water is heated. This procedure can be performed as a demonstration by the teacher, or older students can conduct the experiment themselves. A list of materials, instructions, and a description of the convective process are included.
This instructor guide provides background material for a two-part activity in which students observe convective currents in water and learn that air can behave as as a fluid. Students will understand that temperature changes can cause density changes in water, learn that the same phenomenon happens in air, and understand that temperature-driven density changes will produce currents in a fluid medium. The student guide has an overall description of the activity, a list of materials, the procedure and observations and questions for both parts.