Hot hot

(Kid A’s face complete with snotty nose and marmite chops. No amount of filters can hide that stuff – I’ve tried!)

So most of the main science related things I do are with my daughter who is 3 and 3/4 (obviously a very important 3/4 there in her eyes!). However I have a little boy as well, who is 15 months, and realised there are lots of things we do together that could be classed as science activities. Obviously the explanations are a little simpler for him, but it’s all about connecting those neurons and making science fun and familiar for him.

So he recently learnt about things being hot. It started when I would have a cup of tea and warn him that it was hot (hot hot is what we say-no idea why or where that started!). He would then pull a face as if he is blowing on it, I guess like we have done when food is warm.


He has since learnt that other things are hot and will do the same action (in fact he does it a lot. It’s so damn cute so we probably encourage it quite a bit too!). Sometimes he discovers something is hot by touching it and sometimes he recognises that steam coming from it means it’s hot too.

This might seem pretty basic and is obviously something we all teach our kids when we put warm food in front of them or don’t want them to touch the hot cup of tea, but it is also science. So here’s an activity you can try with your wee ones. I must admit I haven’t quite done this as below but this is what I would have roughly done if I had planned/thought about it beforehand! What you need:

  • 2 bowls for water (essential)
  • cold water and warm water (essential)
  • towels for drying/catching the splashes (not essential but useful)


What to do:

Basically just get your child to splash about in the two bowls of water. If they need encouragement throw in some toys, but if they are like mine they will just splash in any water put in front of them. Dip their hand in the cold water and say ‘cold’ and do the same with the warm water. Simple as that really!

Tips/extra bits:

  • Point out steam from cups of tea, cooking food and hot dinners (you probably do this for hot food already to warn them to blow on it first).
  • Go round the house and find things that are hot and cold. Warm radiators and cold windows spring to mind at this time of year. I am obviously not suggesting you get your child to touch anything that is very hot. I trust that you will all be your own health and safety officials here.

The science bit

Am not suggesting that you try and explain anything beyond stuff is hot, cold, warm etc to your 1 (ish) year olds, but just in case you are interested here is the science stuff. Broadly speaking objects or liquids are different temperatures when they have more or less thermal energy, the heat that you feel is the transfer of energy from a hotter object to a cooler object (i.e. the hot thing to you!). But don’t be fooled into thinking that cold things have no thermal energy because something has to be absolute zero for that to happen (−273.15 °C to be precise). Will be doing some slightly more advanced hot and cold experiments soon (will add the link here when they are done).

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