Specific heat capacity teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about specific heat capacity (GCSE and Key Stage 3)

Heat capacity is how much heat an object can absorb before it increases in temperature. I really enjoy teaching students about specific heat capacity but try to relate this abstract idea to some concrete examples. The demonstration below is a really great way to get students thinking about just how much energy must be transferred to water to raise its temperature. Show students some values for specific heat capacities of different foods – which ones will burn you?! 

Understanding specific heat capacity

GCSE worksheet on specific heat capacity. Students use their understanding of specific heat capacity to explain why you burn your mouth on cheese when eating pizza. This diagnostic task asks students to think about the differences between temperature, kinetic energy stores and thermal energy stores and I hope, helps students to understand what specific heat capacity actually feels like! (PDF)

Using the specific heat capacity of water

GCSE questions using the specific heat capacity of water. Students use the specific heat capacity of water to work out the energy transferred in some everyday contexts. (PDF)

Thinking deeper

  • The Southern Hemisphere has more area covered by ocean that the Northern Hemisphere. Suggest what affect this has on the climate of the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Why does sweating cool us down?
  • The specific heat capacity of ethanol is 2.46 J/g oC. Would you rather sweat water or ethanol? Explain your answer.
  1. Energy transfer by heating
  2. Internal energy
  3. Specific heat capacity