Today, Sheila Ferguson and Brian Jones of Little Shop of Physics came here for Youth Journalism Day and taught us all about thermal radiation.
Today, Sheila Ferguson and Brian Jones of Little Shop of Physics came here for Youth Journalism Day and taught us all about thermal radiation. They also showed us a couple of really awesome experiments.
There was really cool tool that seemed pretty complicated at first, but turned out to be incredibly easy to use. The tool was called a Thermal Radiation Detector. It picked up infrared readings. Infared is the amount of energy things have because they’re hot, much like thermal radiation. Basically, when things are warm, they are white on the scanner, but when things are cold, they are black on the scanner.
One experiment was demonstrating what thermal radiation actually is. They let us use thermal radiation detectors that would receive the infared readings. When pointed at the sky, we discovered that that heated clouds showed up as white, and the sky showed up as black. That’s because the clouds are warm and the sky is not, that’s why at night, a cloudy sky is warmer than a clear sky because of the amount of heat absorbed by the clouds when the sun hits the clouds from behind, which is really pretty interesting.
The second experiment they demonstrated was heat radiation. The experiment was set up with three pieces of glass stacked on top of a black platform, and a light setting really close to the top piece of glass. We all had to make a hypothesis of how the heat radiated through the glass, and which piece was the hottest and which piece was the coolest. We received our own mini thermal temperature detector and had to carefully, but quickly move each piece of glass at a time while the other person measured the temperature. Surprisingly, the bottom was the hottest, top was the coolest, and middles where the medium temperature. We all hypothesized that the middle was gonna be the hottest, but because of radiation, the black bottom platform soaked in the heat and the glass pieces received the little amounts of radiation. This was also really interesting and incredibly exciting to discover what the Earth’s heat is really like.
Now, a science experiment isn’t instructed without the brilliant scientists behind it. Ferguson and Jones are from a science shop called Little Shop of Physics. Jones has been running this shop for 20 years and Ferguson joined in. They have this shop to allow people to explore science by showing them how to do experiments, not just telling them how to do it. Jones said the hardest part about the job is “finding money”, the best part Jones and Ferguson both say is “everyday is different.” They are magnificent teachers and really good at teaching science.
Overall, this was really fun and extremely educational. We all learned a lot about climate change and the change and radiation of Earth. Go science!