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When You're Hot, You're Hot

When You're Hot, You're Hot- by Viki Babcock
Photo of a cross (middle school science)
Students are introduced to endoscopic and thermal imaging technology through this Web site and by studying and "creating" their own thermographs.
Estimated class time

one class period

Lesson Objectives

Students will:
  • Define infrared radiation

  • Relate infrared radiation to the electromagnetic spectrum

  • Predict what a thermograph for a particular item or organism would look like

  • Identify uses of infrared imaging technology
Materials needed

  • Internet access

  • Printed copies of outline drawings of animals and objects for each student (These can be found online at What's New at Enchanted Learning at or by searching online for "coloring pages.")

  • Printed copies of actual thermographs to use with each class (also available online.)

  • Colored pencils

  • Video clips are available on the SECRETS OF THE DEAD: The Tomb of Christ website, but if you wish to purchase the complete program, visit PBS Shop for Teachers
Teaching Strategy

Photo from the Tomb of Christ

Video clips for your students are available here.

Video Clips
  1. Set up several prisms around the room and in the windows so that they are "creating rainbows" in various places. Ask the students what they know about how those rainbows are being produced. Lead the class in a discussion of the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Ask students about the source of that visible light and if that source is producing anything other than light, which should lead them to think about heat.

  2. Show the class a representation of the electromagnetic spectrum (from a textbook, online resource, or create your own.) Point out that visible light is just a small part and that scientists have learned about many other types of radiation and waves. In fact, they have developed many technologies that make use of those waves. Have the class brainstorm a list of technology that they know about which makes use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

  3. Introduce students to the SECRETS OF THE DEAD: The Tomb of Christ Web site at as an example of an interesting use of technology. Provide the students with a summary of the Background information and then read the Clues and Evidence section and discuss with the class. Allow the students to watch the video clips on the site and answer the questions.

  4. Interactive
    View the Tomb

    After completing the interactive for this episode students should answer these questions.
    Discuss what a thermograph looks like, with reds and whites indicating the most heat, and blues and greens indicating cooler areas. Show the class an example. Divide the class into pairs and provide each pair with several outline drawings of animals (including both warm-blooded and cold-blooded specimens) or objects and some colored pencils. Have the pairs discuss what a thermograph of their drawings might look like and then shade it in with their predictions using the colored pencils. Once they have completed their drawings, provide them with a real infrared image (printed from Cool Cosmos at or some other source). Allow students to compare their images and discuss.

  5. Now provide each group with some copies of thermographs and have students guess what they're looking at, describing the reasons behind the heat distribution that's shown by the image. Select a few groups to share their ideas with the class.

  6. Lead a class discussion about what they've learned in class and ask them to think about different ways that infrared imaging could be used. You may want to challenge the groups to see who can come up with most uses of infrared imaging, either on their own or by searching the Internet.
Internet Resources


  • Participation in discussions

  • Thermograph colorings

  • Responses to video questions

  • Research and present information on different uses of endoscopic and infrared imaging

  • Create an electromagnetic spectrum "technology line" showing technology making use of the different types radiation along the spectrum

  • Investigate the behavior of infrared waves by experimenting with a remote control device.

Correlation to National Science Standards

Standards from

CONTENT STANDARD B: As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding of transfer of energy:

  • Heat moves in predictable ways, flowing from warmer objects to cooler ones, until both reach the same temperature.

  • The sun is a major source of energy for changes on the earth's surface. The sun loses energy by emitting light. A tiny fraction of that light reaches the earth, transferring energy from the sun to the earth. The sun's energy arrives as light with a range of wavelengths, consisting of visible light, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation.

CONTENT STANDARD E: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understandings about science and technology:

  • Science and technology are reciprocal. Science helps drive technology, as it addresses questions that demand more sophisticated instruments and provides principles for better instrumentation and technique. Technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable due to factors such as quantity, distance, location, size, and speed. Technology also provides tools for investigations, inquiry, and analysis.
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SECRETS OF THE DEAD is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York. © 2006 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.