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Experiment to find the relationship between the size of the surface area to volume ratio of a container and the rate heat is lost

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Experiment to find the relationship between the size of the surface area to volume ratio of a container and the rate heat is lost Biology Sc1: Planning Aim * I am investigating the relationship between heat loss and surface area to volume ratio. The variable I am testing is the surface area to volume ratio by measuring the heat loss of hot water from different sized containers and therefore different surface area to volume ratios. I will investigate the rate of heat loss in the different containers using a thermometer, to test the hypothesis stated below. Variables * The variables: the size of the container, the source of the water, the starting temperature of the water, the room temperature and atmospheric pressure, the shape of the container, the thickness of the glass, the capacity of the container, whether the container has an open top or a bottle neck. ...read more.


This encourages evaporation, the loss of heat through convection, conduction and radiation having increased its surface area to volume ratio again. An opposite example is the dormouse. The dormouse has a large surface area to volume ratio and therefore loses a lot of heat in relation to its much colder habitat compared to the elephant. The mouse must consciously decide to increase its heat by eating more food and increasing its metabolic rate. In humans heat is lost to the air from exposed surfaces of the body by conduction, radiation and convection. Evaporation from the skin takes place all the time and is a cause of heat loss. The body regulates its temperature by internal thermo-regulators losing more heat by vaso-dilation and conserving heat by vaso-constriction; also there are conscious decisions like moving into the shade to keep cool. ...read more.


I filled the first beaker with the hot water, put it on the desk and inserted a thermometer. As soon as this happened I started timing with the stopwatch. For every 15 seconds for the first minute and for each of the following 10 minutes I took the temperature of the water from the thermometer. I recorded the times in a table and repeated the experiment with the same size container again. I poured the water out at the end of the timing into a measuring cylinder in order to measure the volume to let me work out the surface area to volume ratio. I repeated this procedure with the different sized containers, each time taking the water at 90�C and timing for 11 minutes, then recording the volume of water contained. After recording my times in a table I put my data onto a line graph and a bar chart so they could be analysed and conclusions could be drawn. Diagram Patrick Dean 11PWS ...read more.

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3 star(s)

This piece of work is 3 stars because it is firstly incomplete and secondly there are improvements to be made to the method if the results are to be fair. Overall good scientific knowledge in the planning and good knowledge of the variables to control, change and measure. The experiment carried out is not going to answer the exact questions about the effect of SA:Vol ratio on rate of heat loss as they have not mentioned how they will measure this exactly but they will get a set of results about heat loss and volumes/size/shape of the container. They must only change one variable eg the volume, the shapes or the surface area. I recommend doing this with same volumes of 200ml liquid at the same starting temperature but in different shaped containers or different size containers. This experiment changed the volume and size and shape in each stage and in turn did not make this a fair test.

Marked by teacher Patricia McHugh 01/12/2012

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