Can You "See" Thermal Radiation?

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Use this hands-on activity to demonstrate infrared and thermal radiation. Learners will cover their eyes or wear blindfolds and then move their hands to sense the infrared heat coming from a ceramic heater nearby. Just like snakes that can "see" thermal radiation to detect their prey, learners will detect infrared by measuring the heating of their palms when the infrared strikes the skin. Note: the cost of a ceramic reptile heater and metal lamp stand are not included in the cost of materials.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Ceramic reptile heater
  • Metal lamp stand
  • Blindfolds (optional)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Touch
      • Vision
      • Perception
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Animals


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Little Shop of Physics, 2009