GEMS- Convection: A Current Event
Field of Science or Math
6, 7, 8
Convection is a powerful and exciting force in many natural physical events—movement of the Earth's crust and volcanic eruptions, weather, wind, ocean currents. Its influence is enormous.
In the course of this dynamic unit, students explore the many roles of convection by observing and diagramming convection currents in fluids. Where traditional textbooks use two-dimensional images to convey the notion of convection, this GEMS guide brings the concept to life with physical experiments on the movement of heat, the diffusion of scent, the trajectory of carbon dioxide, and other seeming intangibles. From these activities students learn to predict and track wind patterns and other intangible phenomena. A background section for the teacher is provided.
Fundamental knowledge of the concept of density provides a full understanding of why convection occurs, but is not necessary to this unit (which introduces the idea, characteristics, and application of convection in stand-alone fashion). If your students are ready to learn about density, however, we encourage you to precede this unit with the GEMS guide Discovering Density.