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Heat Energy

A Science AZ Physical Series

Word Count: 1,324


Written by Felicia Brown

Visit www.sciencea-z.com


Heat Energy

Key elements Used in This Book

The Big Idea: One of the most important types of energy on Earth is
heat energy. A great deal of heat energy comes from the Suns light
hitting Earth. Other sources include geothermal energy, friction, and
even living things. Heat energy is the driving force behind everything
we do. This energy gives us the ability to run, dance, sing, and play.
We also use heat energy to warm our homes, cook our food, power
our vehicles, and create electricity.
Key words: cold, conduction, conductor, convection, energy, evaporate,
fire, friction, fuel, gas, geothermal heat, geyser, heat energy, hot, insulation,
insulator, lightning, liquid, matter, particles, radiate, radiant energy, solid,
Sun, temperature, thermometer, transfer, volcano
Key comprehension skill: Cause and effect
Other suitable comprehension skills: Compare and contrast; classify information;
main idea and details; identify facts; elements of a genre; interpret graphs,
charts, and diagram
Key reading strategy: Connect to prior knowledge
Other suitable reading strategies: Ask and answer questions; summarize;
visualize; using a table of contents and headings; using a glossary and
bold terms
Photo Credits:
Front cover: iStockphoto.com/Julien Grondin; back cover, page 5: iStockphoto.com/
Arpad Benedek; title page, page 20 (top): iStockphoto.com/Anna Ziska; pages 3, 9,
20 (bottom): Jupiterimages Corporation; page 4: iStockphoto.com/Nancy Louie;
page 6 (left): iStockphoto.com/Sreedhar Yedlapati; page 6 (right): iStockphoto.com/
Diane Diederich; page 7 (left): iStockphoto.com/Allen Johnson; page 7 (right):
iStockphoto.com/Alexander Hafemann; pages 10, 11: iStockphoto.com/bubaone;
page 13: iStockphoto.com/Milorad Zaric; page 16 (top): iStockphoto.com/Mik111;
page 16 (bottom left): iStockphoto.com/Amanda Rohde; page 16 (bottom right):
iStockphoto.com/Craig Veltri; page 21 (top): Sheryl Shetler/ Learning AZ;
page 21 (bottom): iClipart.com; page 22: courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech
Illustration Credits:
Pages 8, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19: Cende Hill/ Learning AZ

Written by Felicia Brown


Heat Energy
Learning AZ
Written by Felicia Brown
All rights reserved.

Heat energy cooks these marshmallows.


Table of Contents
Introduction............................................... 4
Sources of Heat Energy............................ 5
Temperature............................................. 10
Heat Moves Through Things................ 13
Conduction............................................... 14
Convection............................................... 17
Heat Energy and You.............................. 20
Glossary.................................................... 23
Index......................................................... 24

Have you ever stood next to a campfire?

Have you ever watched soup boil or ice
melt? If so, you have felt or seen heat
energy at work!
There are many kinds of energy, such as
sound energy and electrical energy. But
it is heat energy that we see and feel the
most. We use it to cook our food, heat
our houses, and run our cars.
In this book, you will learn where heat
energy comes from, how it is used, how
it moves, and more.

Sources of Heat Energy

Have you ever wondered about all the
ways we get heat energy?
One easy way to make heat is with
friction, or the rubbing together of two
objects. Rub your hands together very
fast. Can you feel the heat? Rough
objects often make more friction than
smooth objects, and more friction
makes more heat!

Fuel makes cars run and

makes the electricity we use
every day.

Burning fuel is another way we make

heat. When fuels such as coal, gasoline,
and wood burn, they make heat energy.
Heat from burning gasoline is used to
make cars and trucks run.
Electricity is another way we get heat
energy. Electric furnaces heat homes
and schools. Toasters, irons, and hair
dryers are just a few other things that
use electricity to make heat.

Rubbing your hands and wearing warm

clothing help keep you warm.

Heat energy comes from natural sources,

too. Lightning is a natural source of heat
that makes air spread out very fast,
causing thunder. And did you know
that Earth has its own heat buried deep
underground, called geothermal heat? Its
so hot under Earths crust that rocks melt.
Sometimes the molten rock comes out at
the surface through a volcano. In other
places, the molten rock comes close to the
surface but doesnt come out. This melted,
underground rock can heat water trapped
in the ground. The water later shoots out
of the ground as a geyser.

Nature can melt rocks, heat water underground, and make

gorgeous displays of heat energy.

Earth receives
light energy
from the Sun.

Some of the heat

energy radiates away
and is absorbed by
the atmosphere.

Land, air, and water

absorb light energy
and warm up.

The Sun is our most important source

of energy. Have you ever stepped from
the shade into sunlight and felt warmer?
You may think that heat comes straight
from the Sun to Earth, but it doesnt.
Sunlight is radiant energy. Radiant
energy travels to Earth in waves of tiny
particles. When sunlight hits your skin,
it changes to heat. Your microwave oven
uses another kind of radiant energy to
cook your food.

Heat energy always moves from warmer

places to cooler places. When sunlight
hits the ground, it turns to heat. Then the
heat moves from the hot ground to the
cooler air above it. This blanket of air
around Earth keeps the planet warm.

Dark things take in more of the Suns

energy than light-colored things. Thats
why light-colored clothes keep you cooler
on a hot summer day.
So which would feel
warmer in the sun: a
white rock or a black

All mattereverything that has weight
and takes up spaceis made of particles
too tiny to see. These particles are
always moving a little bit. Every object
also has heat energy, and the amount of
heat energy an object has affects how
quickly its particles move. An object
with less heat energy has particles that
move more slowly. An
object with more heat
energy has particles that
move more quickly.

The heat energy of each particle affects

how fast it moves.


We use temperature to know how much

heat energy things have. The less heat
energy an object has, the more slowly
its particles move and the colder its
temperature. The more heat energy an
object has, the faster its particles move
and the hotter its temperature. We use
a thermometer to measure temperature.
Temperature is measured in degrees ()
according to either the Celsius (C) or
Fahrenheit (F) scale.
Water freezes at 0C (32F), and it boils at 100C (212F).
A thermometer can tell you how hot or cold the water is.

Thermometer comes from two words.

Thermo means heat. Meter means
an object used to measure. So a
thermometer is an object used to
measure how hot something is.

Because boiling water has so much heat

energy, the tiny particles in the water
move very fast. The temperature of
boiling water is 100C (212F).
Ice, or frozen water, has so little heat
energy that the tiny particles in it move
very slowly. The temperature of frozen
water is 0C (32F).

When particles have more heat,

they move faster.



Heat Moves Through Things


You know that the temperature of an

object can change. The water that was
boiling at 100C (212F) freezes solid
if you leave it in the freezer long enough.
And if you leave an ice cube out on a
plate, it will melt. Other objects change
temperature, too. Pizza thats hot from the
oven will get cold over time. The water
and pizza change temperature because
heat energy moves through them.

Heat moves most easily through solids.

This is because the particles in solids are
closer together than the particles in air
or liquids. Heat can quickly transfer
from one particle to another when they
are close together. Heat moves through
solids by conduction.
Gas: Particles are farthest
apart. Heat moves
slowest through a gas.

Heat energy moves through solids

(such as pizza) as well as liquids and
gases (such as water and air). But it
moves differently through solids than
it moves through liquids and gases.

Liquid: Particles
are closer
together than in a
gas. Heat moves
more quickly
through a liquid.

Solid: Particles are

closest together and in
a pattern. Heat moves
easily through particles.
Heat moves through particles in pizza. A hot piece of pizza
cools down over time.



Particles higher
up are still cool
and slow.

in the fire
get hot and
move fast.

What happens to the particles in this

metal rod when they touch fire? First,
they get heat energy from the fire. The
heat energy makes them move fast. The
hotter particles bump into other, cooler
particles in the rod. This makes the
cooler particles heat up and move faster.
The heat energy moves up the rod until
all its particles are hot. In time, the rod
will be too hot to hold!

A good conductor
is a material that
heat can move
through easily.
Metal is a good
conductor. Pots
and pans are
A metal pot is a good conductor.
made of metal
because it helps food cook fast.
Other solids, such as wood and plastic,
are not good conductors. Heat energy
moves slowly in these solids. Solids that
do not conduct heat
well are called
insulators. Pan
handles are
made of wood
and plastic
because they
Insulated cups keep heat in,
stay cool.
while oven mitts keep heat out.


Now the soup at the top of the pot is

cooler. It is also heavier, so it sinks! The
cool soup pushes the lighter, hotter soup
up to the top. Now the heavier, cooler
soup takes in heat from the bottom of the
hot pot. It will rise to the top of the pot
and sink again. This is why soup churns
and boils as it is heated!

cool soup
soup heats up
burner heats
the pan

Lets look at how heat moves through
a liquid, such as soup. A hot pot heats
the soup at the bottom first. The heat
makes these soup particles move fast
and spread out. When the particles
spread out, the soup gets lighter! The
soup at the bottom of the pot becomes
lighter than the soup at the top.

particles close
together and
moving slowly

particles far apart

and moving fast



Heat Energy and You

Your body works

Energy from the Sun turns to heat when it is absorbed by the

ground. Then heat from the ground warms the air above it.
Cooler air from above pushes the warm air up.

Now lets learn how heat moves through

a gas, such as air. When the ground
warms the air above it, the air rises. The
heavier, cooler air from above sinks and
pushes the warmer air up. The warm air
becomes cool as it moves away from the
warmer ground. At the same time, the
cooler air that sank toward the ground is
getting heated. Cooler air is always
sinking and pushing up warmer air. This
rising and sinking air makes wind! The
movement of heat energy through
liquids and gases is called convection.

to stay at a
temperature of
37C (98.6F). So
when you get too
hot, you sweat. As
sweat evaporates
from your skin, it
Sweat keeps your body cool.
releases heat from your body into the air.
Now your skin has a lower temperature,
and your body feels
cooler. To stay
warm, you wear
thick clothes. The
clothes you wear
when it is cold
outside are good
insulators. They
stop the heat from
leaving your body.
Clothing keeps you warm.


Insulation has many tiny air pockets. Air is a good insulator.

Homes and buildings keep us cool on

hot days and warm on cold days. We
use fuel to heat our homes. We put
insulation in the walls and ceilings of
our homes. In the summer, insulation
helps keep out hot air. In the winter,
insulation helps keep in warm air.

Most of our energy comes from the Sun.

You have learned that heat is one of

many kinds of energy. It is an important
form of energy that we use every day.
You have also learned that heat moves
through solids, liquids, and gases by
passing from particle to particle. You
know it moves from hotter areas to
cooler areas. We use temperature to
measure how hot or cold something is.

Imagine being lost outdoors in

the woods on a cold day.
You dont have matches to start a
fire. How would you stay warm?

Heat energy has many sources, including

fuels, electricity, the Sun, lightning,
geysers, and volcanoes. Without heat
energy, life on Earth would not exist!


Answers will vary. Possible answers: Build

a shelter from tree branches and brush,
rub sticks together so that friction makes
them burn, or pile up leaves and grass,
and crawl under them to stay warm.

conduction the transfer of heat from one
object to another (p. 14)
conductor a material, usually a metal,
that transfers heat,
electricity, or sound from
one object to another (p. 16)
convection the transfer of heat by
movement in a liquid
or gas (p. 19)

heat energy a form of energy that is

transferred from an object
with a higher temperature
to an object with a lower
temperature (p. 4)
insulator a material that reduces or
prevents the transfer of heat
(p. 16)
matter anything that takes up space
and has weight (p. 10)

evaporate to change from a liquid state

to a gas state (p. 20)
friction a force that builds up when
two objects rub against each
other (p. 5)
fuel any material used to
produce heat or power (p. 6)
geothermal heat heat energy from inside
Earth in the form of steam or
hot water that is sometimes
used to produce power (p. 7)
geyser a hot spring that boils from
time to time, sending a
column of water and steam
into the air (p. 7)

radiant energy energy that travels

in waves (p. 8)
temperature the measure of hot and cold,
usually measured on a
thermometer (p. 11)
thermometer a tool used for measuring
temperature (p. 11)
transfer to move from one place
to another (p. 14)

cooking, 4, 8, 1618
particles, 1012, 1315, 17, 18, 22
sunlight, 8, 9, 19