By Michelle Harrop
Christopher Russoniello and his 8th grade students are learning about heat loss and are getting a little help from the Livingston Fire Department and their thermal imaging camera.
The students designed, built and adapted their own structures to study what materials are the best insulators, using foil, cardboard, different types of foam, and different types of tape. They were given gel heat packs to put in their structures. Throughout the class, they measured the heat loss hand-held infrared thermometers, which they pointed at the various seams and surfaces of their structure.
About half way through the period, Mr. Russoniello showed the class their structures through the fire department’s thermal imaging camera. Through this, the students were able to see where they were losing the most heat, a new and creative way to visualize what their data was telling them. As the images appeared, the students saw a bright light, mostly at the seams of their structure, indicating that heat was escaping.
The students were curious about the camera, asking questions about how it worked, and wondering if an even bigger one would be more useful in finding people in larger fires, especially after seeing the cooler spots on their own structures. One student had just touched her structure, so Mr. Russoniello was able to show the group her fingerprints on their cardboard box.
A majority of Mr. Russoniello’s students were able to see their projects through the camera, and some even got to see their structure move slightly as the heat moved across it.