Featured in PASCO’s College Environmental Science Instructor Guide

College Environmental Science Instructor Guide

(PS-3809A)

College Instructor edition with experiments covering introductory and general environmental science topics.

Investigate Specific Heat

Lab Summary

Use fast-response temperature probes and stainless steel temperature sensors to determine and compare the specific heat of water to that of sand, as a model of land, and consider the effects of these differences on global weather and climate.

Theory

The high specific heat of water accounts for many characteristics of global weather and climate. In this activity, students determine and compare the specific heat of water to that of sand, as a model of land. Students:

  • Determine the relative heating and cooling rates of water versus sand.
  • Determine the specific heat of sand and compare it to the specific heat of water.
  • Consider the effects on global weather and climate of the different specific heats of water and land.

Method

Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Using two temperature probes, simultaneously measure the heating and cooling rates of water and sand, and then compare these rates.
  • Using two temperature sensors, measure the initial temperatures of water and heated sand, the final temperature of the water-sand mixture, and then calculate the specific heat of the sand using the law of energy conservation.

Materials Used:

Beaker, glass, 500-mL 
Beakers, glass, 250-mL - 2
Buret clamp - 2
Disposable insulated cup (2) and lid - 2
Heat lamp or 150 W incandescent lamp
Hot plate 
Mass balance or scale - 1 per class
Sand, 200 g - 200 g
Small tripod base, and rod 
Stirring rod 
Test tube, glass, 18 x 150-mm (large)
Tongs 
Water - 650 mL

The Associated Bundle:

College Environmental Science Sensor Bundle

(PS-2930A)

Contains the probeware needed to perform all 26 experiments in the College Environmental Science instructor guide.

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.