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Al Tobias (wat4y) - Office: Gibson S123 & Physics 218, (434) 924-0538

Physics Demo Manual

Demonstrations are cataloged according to PIRA Bibliography


Due to Physics Building renovations, the lead time to set up demo requests has increased due to the need to transport equipment across campus. Please be kind and let me know well ahead of time what you need.

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 Thermal Properties Of Matter
 Heat And The First Law
 Heat Capacity using Wax and metal Balls
  video  - Convection Box
 Convection Chimney
 Chimney with Vane
  video  - Heat Conduction
  video  - Thermal Conductivity
  video  - Light The Match
 Leslie Cube
 Boiling Water in a Paper Cup
 Steam Gun
  video  - Fire Syringe
 Jug O' Air
 Change Of State
 Kinetic Theory
 Gas Law
 Entropy And The Second Law

 video  - Thermal Conductivity


To demonstrate thermal conduction along a metal rod.


centered image

Attach four steel balls to each of three different rods with modeling clay. The rods are made of COPPER (left), ALUMINUM (front right) and STAINLESS STEEL (back right) in the video above. Light the burner and wait a few minutes. As the rods heat up, the balls will begin to fall as the clay softens and loses grip. Discuss the different rates of thermal conductivity between the copper, aluminum, and stainless steel rods and why the steel balls fall off one rod before another. NOTE: Only one or two of the balls will fall from the stainless steel balls. Don't wait for them all to drop. Turn off the burner after all the balls have dropped from the copper and aluminum rods.

Thermal Conductivity (W/mK)

  • COPPER = 386
  • ALUMINUM = 237
  • STEEL = 80
  • STAINLESS = 16
  • TEFLON = 0.25


  • Bunsen burner
  • Insulated Ring Stand
  • Modeling Clay
  • Steel Ball
  • Tripod w/ Copper, Aluminum & Stainless Steel Rods