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Convection currents made simple

When a portion of liquid or gasoline is heated, it expands and turns into much less dense. The hotter, much less dense liquid rises to the highest and cooler liquid falls to take its place. This cycle of rising and falling of a liquid or gasoline is known as a. named convection present

We now have a quite simple convection present demonstration: utilizing cold and hot water with meals coloring to indicate the motion of scorching water via chilly water.

Demonstration of convection present

You want

Tall glass or vase

A smaller glass or cup

Scorching water

Chilly water


Warm colored water in a small container in a larger pot of cold water to show that warm water rises


Fill the tall glass or jar with chilly water.

Fill the smaller container with scorching (however not boiling) water and add just a few drops of meals coloring.

Rigorously place the small container within the container with the chilly water.

See what occurs to the hotter, coloured water.

The new, coloured water rises to the highest and collects on the prime of the chilly water. It then cools and sinks to the underside. Ultimately all of the water would be the similar temperature.

How does convection work?

Particles of heat water transfer sooner and unfold. They rise upward via denser, cooler water that sinks to the underside the place it warms. In the end, all liquid has the identical temperature.

The new water rises as a result of liquids and gases increase when heated. Which means they take up extra space, however have the identical mass, so their thickness is lower than when they’re cool. Substances with decrease densities float on substances with larger densities.

Scheme with water heating in a pan and the direction of heating.  Warmer water rises, cooler water falls to take its place.  This cooler water is then heated and rises.
Convection present in heated water

Ask an grownup to assist with this exercise

Additional problem

Repeat the exercise with chilly water as a substitute of scorching water and see what occurs to the coloured water.

cold water in cold water for a science experiment on convection currents

You’ll be able to see that the chilly water doesn’t transfer upwards like the nice and cozy water.

How is warmth transferred?

Warmth could be transferred in three alternative ways. Conductionconvection and radiation


Conduction of warmth happens when vibrating particles transmit additional vibrational vitality to close by particles. The extra vitality the particles have, the warmer the item will get. An instance of this type of warmth switch is when steel pans are heated on a stovetop. The warmth passes via the pan. If the deal with of the pan can also be steel, it would additionally get scorching. For that reason, steel pans usually have plastic or picket cladding on their handles. Plastic and steel are usually not good warmth conductors.


In convection of warmth, hotter molecules of a liquid or gasoline transfer from a hotter to a cooler space and take the warmth with them.

Water heated in a pan is an instance of convection. That is the kind of warmth switch we demonstrated above.


Radiation of warmth is when warmth is radiated to the atmosphere via warmth waves. Particles are usually not concerned in one of these warmth switch.

Warmth from the solar touring via area is an instance of warmth switch via radiation. This sort of warmth is transferred by waves.

Diagram with convection, conduction and radiation with the example of a campfire
Diagram displaying conduction, convection and conduction

The campfire and pan instance above reveals all three kinds of warmth switch.

Warmth travels via radiation from the campfire to the steel pan. Warmth travels via the steel of the pan conduction to warmth the decrease water layers. The water is then heated by convection because the much less dense hotter water rises via the cooler water to kind a convection present

Bear in mind: warmth is barely transferred when there’s a temperature distinction.

scientific ideas

  • Thickness
  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • radiation
  • warmth switch
An image of red hot water rising through cold water and blue colored cold water not rising through cold water for a convection current scientific activity

Final up to date on June 14, 2022 by Emma Vanstone

#Convection #currents #simple

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