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Paleontological Research Institution


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Physics

Resource Type

  • Videos, 3 minutes, 26 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Feel the Heat Capacity

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  • This short video by the Paleontological Research Institution explains the concept of heat capacity and then explains some implications of water's high heat capacity in the environment. 
  • A simple experiment of heating up two different balloons, one filled with water and one filled with air, demonstrates water's high heat capacity. 
Teaching Tips


  • A thorough verbal explanation and visual demonstration shows the high heat capacity of water, as compared to air. 
  • The narrator describes all components of the demonstration, easily allowing a teacher to replicate this same set-up in their classroom. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with terms like energy, temperature, and heat. 


  • Before watching the video, consider having students record their predictions about how air and water heat up and store energy.
  • To dive deeper into the implications of water's high heat capacity, consider visiting this lesson: Thermal Expansion of Water.
Scientist Notes
Water is an essential element in the climate system especially as a heat regulator between the earth-ocean-atmospheric interface. The resource experiments the differences in heat capacity between air and water and concludes that water is significantly a better heat regulator and can absorb more heat than air. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science and Engineering
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • HS-PS1-5 Apply scientific principles and evidence to provide an explanation about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs.
    • PS3: Energy
      • MS-PS3-4 Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.
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