Swalwell Primary School

Working together, learning together


Science 16.11.20


This week in Science we learnt about thermal conductors and insulators.


A thermal conductor is a material which will allow heat energy to transfer through it. For example, when a metal pan is heated up, the heat energy will transfer through the molecules in the metal to heat up the metal part of the pan. This is because the metal is a thermal conductor.


A thermal insulator is a material which will not allow heat energy to transfer through it. For example, a plastic pan handle or a wooden spoon will not get hot when heat is applied. A woolly jumper is also a thermal insulator as it doesn’t allow the heat from your body to pass through it. This is how it keeps you warm.


Sort the materials below. Are they thermal conductors or insulators?


  • tin foil
  • polystyrene cup
  • wooden spoon
  • metal pan
  • radiator
  • wool coat




You have been set the task of designing a new lunch box. The lunch box must keep the food inside cold for as long as possible. The inside lining will need to be a thermal insulator, to prevent the heat from outside getting in to the food.

How could you test which material is best for keeping food cool?


You will have access to the following equipment to investigate which materials are the best insulators:


  • thermometer
  • containers
  • ice cubes
  • different materials
  • stop watch


Plan an investigation by answering the following questions.


What will you do to test which material is the best insulator?

What will you keep the same in order to make your test fair? (e.g. amount of ice cubes)

What will you change?

What will you measure?

How will you record your results?


I am looking forward to hearing your ideas!


Have a great day!

Miss Grey