What Is a Good Explanation of Heat Conduction for Kids?

A simple explanation for heat conduction is the transfer of heat from one object to another. As a molecule in a substance is heated, it begins to vibrate rapidly, passing heat to other molecules nearby. In conduction, the hottest object is the heat source, and the coolest is the heat sink; energy moves from the source to the sink until they are equal.

An example of heat conduction is if one end of a wire hanger is stuck into a flame. If the end of the wire hanger is held in contact with the flame, the hanger eventually becomes too hot to hold. The molecules of the hanger pass heat energy to one another until they are all heated equally. This is because metal is a good conductor of heat energy.

In contrast, if the end of a piece of wood is stuck into the fire, the wood begins to burn. This is because wood is a poor conductor of heat, so the heat energy does not travel up the stick, instead remaining concentrated at the end, which causes it to ignite. Good conductors of heat are often the same materials that are good conductors of electricity. These are materials such as copper, silver, platinum and gold.