Friday, June 10, 2011

Letting off Steam and Cooling Down

Don’t be confused by the title … this isn’t a new relaxation technique it’s still all about the science!  In this blog, we are looking at what happens to water as it is heated.

The first major power source to drive machinery in factories was the steam engine.  The first steam engine to work of great note was Thomas Newcomen Atmospheric engine dating back to 1712 in England.  These early engines used to pump water out of coalmines.  It wasn’t long before people thought of new and different ways to use this technology.

The steam engine was the backbone of the industrial revolution.  It had an impact on manufacturing and on the way people lived all around the world.  Due to these changes, small farming communities disappeared and large industrial cities became the norm.  Although all that was a long time ago, steam engines and locomotives are still in operation around the world today.

For this experiment you will need:

  • An alert adult
  • A boiling kettle
  • A metal plate

Once the kettle is boiling simply hold the metal plate in the middle of the steam plume for a few seconds.

Remove the plate and observe the little droplets of water on the metal plate.  Why does this happen?

Well….  As the water is heated it boils and it goes through a change from a liquid to a gas.  As the gas cools, it changes back into water.  The metal plate is cool and so it speeds up the change from a gas to a liquid.  It builds up and forms little drops of water. 

Want to know more … click here and here
Alan is a MASSIVE lover of all things train.  Add steam and he is in heaven.  Here is a video of our trips to the Manukau Live Steamers open day and the wonderful steam train in Kawakawa.  Great videos to show your students steam in action.




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