University of Virginia
Physics Department

Introduction to Transfer of Heat by Radiation

A Physical Science Activity

Student Activity

Materials (for each group of three)

  1. Pour the same amount of water in each of the two cans (about 200 mL), put the lid on, put the thermometer in, and place the cans in front of the lamps as shown. Measure the original temperature and write it on the data sheet. The initial temperatures of the liquids should be the same.

  2. Turn on the lamps and start the stopwatch. Read the temperature of the thermometers each minute and write it down on the data sheet. After 20 minutes stop the experiment.
  3. On the graph paper, graph the temperatures versus time for both cans. Make sure to remember what container each data point came from!

To print out the Data Sheet only, click here

Data Sheet

  White tin can Black tin can
Original temperature    
Temp after 1 minute    
2 minutes    
3 minutes    
4 minutes    
5 minutes    
6 minutes    
7 minutes    
8 minutes    
9 minutes    
10 minutes    
11 minutes    
12 minutes    
13 minutes    
14 minutes    
15 minutes    
16 minutes    
17 minutes    
18 minutes    
19 minutes    
20 minutes    


1. Which container experienced the larger temperature increase? Why?

2. Which container had the smaller heat increase? Why?