Meteorologist Ray Petelin is back with another home science lesson!By Ray Petelin

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Train conductors and orchestra conductors are great, but we are going to learn more about heat conductors.

A heat conductor, or thermal conductor is a material that allows heat to pass from an area of higher temperatures to an area of lower temperatures. This is something that is often felt, but not seen.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

We are going to change that today in an experiment. This experiment uses a flame and creates dangerously hot metal, so only responsible adults should conduct this experiment.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

We already talked about what a conductor is, but it is also important to note that some things conduct better than others. That is why we are going to use copper, which is a fabulous conductor.  This wire is a great conductor, but the more copper, the more heat you can move from one place to another.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

That is why we are going to create a spiral, or coil. We are going to twist this up, so it has more area to better conduct.

Now, to see the conduction at work, we need a heat source we can see.  Like fire.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

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We are going to put that copper coil up to the flame, and you can see the flame looks like it was cut off. The coil allows for plenty of oxygen to help keep the flame alive, but the flame looks like it is going out.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

What is happening?

Since copper is a great conductor, and we created a coil of it, the coil is drawing the heat from the flame into the copper. This copper is getting hotter, but the flame is losing some of its heat to the copper, shrinking the flame’s size.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

Now, let’s heat the copper coil until it glows, making it nearly the same temperature as the flame. You will notice that if you perform the experiment again, at this point, the flame can pass through the coil, because the coil is no longer conducting the candle’s heat away.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Weather Center)

If you are conducting this experiment, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT SINCE THE COPPER IS DRAWING THE FLAME’S HEAT, THAT THE COPPER IS GOING TO GET HOTTER AND HOTTER. THIS INCLUDES THE PART USED AS HANDLE.

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Coils are a great design for heat transfer, too. You will notice them in heating and cooling systems This design is used because it enlarges the heat transfer area, making it more efficient.