Monday, January 19, 2015

How NOT to give a Montessori presentation on radiant heat...

Last week we began the section of the KotU geography album titled "The Protection of the Atmosphere and the Rains."  The first presentation is about the blankets of the atmosphere and radiant heat.

The presentation starts with a demonstration of radiant heat.  This didn't go very well.  You are supposed to compare the direct heat given off by a long kitchen match to that of a spoon heated on a hot plate.  I'm lazy so we compared the direct heat given off by our gas burner to the radiant heat given off by a spoon heated by the same gas burner.  I don't know if something is wrong with our spoons or what, but there wasn't a whole lot of radiant heat given off.  All three of us burned ourselves on that spoon while trying to get close enough to feel it.  We need do heat something else.  Like a brick.  I don't particularly want to heat a brick.  I'm open to suggestions.  

Also, this is why you are supposed to practice your presentations before giving them to the kids.  So lazy.  Also, this is why experienced teachers are worth more money than newbies.  Just saying...

I used two different styles of impressionistic charts:  ETC Montessori and "Albanesi-style" charts from the Mid-America album.  The "Albanesi-style" charts also come with the KotU albums but I had printed and colored all of the Mid-America charts before I owned the KotU albums.

As always, the ETC charts are prettier, but don't illustrate the concepts as clearly.

I like that it is nighttime in the second Albanesi-style chart.

None of my resources explain what the little circles are on the charts.  I assume they are particles of gas in the atmosphere.  If that is the case, I wish the Albanesi-style charts had done a better job of thinning them out a little in the middle layers and I wish that the ETC charts hadn't made such a clean straight line of them at the bottom.

Anyway, once the child understands that heat not only comes directly from the sun but is also radiated from the Earth and that this radiated heat is often trapped by the particles of gases in the atmosphere (apparently it's like some cities in the U.S., getting in is just fine but getting out can be a nightmare) we move on to the "blanket" charts.  The baby at the top of the mountain not only has less/no blankets but also cannot feel the radiant heat from the Earth at the bottom of the mountain.  My kids were mostly concerned that a baby was up that high on a mountain and wondered how it got there.

The second baby has more blankets of the atmosphere and is also benefitting from radiant heat at ground level.  The boys felt this baby was safer, but worried about predators.

This ground-level radiant heat is represented by an Ewok-style roasting of the person in the Albanesi-style chart.  Maybe this is why they chose NOT to use a baby in these charts.

That looks more like direct heat than radiant heat to me...


  1. Yes, the baby is unnerving. The shivering boy who breaks open rocks already brings up thoughts of "Who put him there!? Lock that person up!" But babies? No.

    LOVE the Ewoks!

    Yes on the circles being air particles and I take that as my cue to assure that is in my albums ;) Probably what ETC was doing is showing the layers of the atmosphere at their changing points. Doesn't entirely work like that, but close. Ish.

    My first personal though about the gas burner and spoon - is that the gas burner will be warmer in a wider area than a kitchen match ---- and when comparing that heat to the spoon, you'll automatically end up getting closer to it... so the different was so great in "area" perhaps?

    Something to experiment with ;)

    1. Funny :) I think the ETC charts have an alternative to the shivering boy breaking open rocks.

      We spend a lot of time singing the Ewok celebration song around here. "Yub nub, echok yub nub...."

      Hmmmm... I'll experiment with a smaller heat source.

  2. Interesting. I'll be looking out for those comments about the boy who breaks open the rocks. I think I'd be a little weird-ed out by the baby thing too. Why a baby?

    Interesting point about the kitchen match and the spoon. I wonder if a bic lighter would act the same way as the "small-match flame." (Either the kind you light a cigarette with or the kind that is a wand-type thing you light birthday candles with -- unless you are my husband and you light the birthday candles with a butane torch.)

    1. Butane torch for birthday candles! THAT is awesome!!!!

    2. I was so thinking about that torch as I was reading about lighting up spoons! I need one!

    3. It's like Tim the Toolman Taylor.

    4. Toolman quote:

      "There was one time I really got him steamed up, though. I was nine. He finally let me play with his butane torch."
      "Well, what happened?" "I got to ride in a firetruck. And we got a new garage."
      -Tim and Randy

  3. Love the kids comments on the baby! I was laughing out loud and everyone is trying to sleep! My kids definitely do the same. It's hard for me to get them back on track though after they start thinking about all sorts of other things unrelated to my presentation. I'll be sure NOT to use these charts ever. :)