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Identifying Light Energy by Temperature Changes
In this activity, students determine the amount of heat energy released from a burning peanut and relate this experiment to a microcalorimeter. They will explore how light energy can cause a change in temperature and relate what they find in this activity to how a microcalorimeter works to produce a spectrum of light from an incoming source. Students will discover that, because it can measure very tiny temperature changes, this device will allow for the collection of spectra with extremely high-energy resolution, which will allow the measurement of chemical shifts due to different chemical bonding states, and the precise identification of incident photons.
Intended for grade levels:
  • High (9-12)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lab activity
  • Physics
  • Space science
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
If using the HEASARC service made a significant contribution to a research project, please make the following acknowledgement in any resulting publication: This research has made use of data obtained from the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), provided by NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center. Please send a preprint or reprint of the paper to: The HEASARC Code 660.2 NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, Maryland, 20771, USA
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-005-984
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 9-12:
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
        • Understandings about scientific inquiry
      • B - Physical science:
        • Interactions of energy and matter
        • Structure of atoms
      • F - Science in personal / social perspectives:
        • Sci. / tech. in local, national, and global challenges
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center