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The Fortune Fish is a very thin piece of red cellophane in the shape of a fish, 8.9 cm (3.5 inch). When placed in the palm of a hand it twists and curls. It seems to move magically, different for different people.
Explanation A common incorrect hypothesis is that heat causes the movement of the Fortune Fish. To show that this is not the correct, hold the tail of the Fortune Fish with tweezers over something warm. No movement is expected.
When the Fortune Fish is placed in a hand, moisture is absorbed on one side of the cellophane, causing that side to expand. If only one side expands, the thin cellophane curls. When the water on the cellophane evaporates, the fish becomes flat.
The Fortune Fish motor absorbs water when close to the moist paper towel and curls upward. Away from the higher concentration of water vapor, the water molecules are released from the cellophane and the fish becomes flat. For the Fortune Fish motor to work, there must be a difference in concentration of water vapor, so that water can be both absorbed and released. Slight circulation of air sometimes helps.
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Students can use Fortune Fish as evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
Students can use Fortune Fish to make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by heat.
Students can use Fortune Fish to apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that convert energy from one form to another.
Students can use Fortune Fish to apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy.
Students can use Fortune Fish to plan an investigation to determine that 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.
Students can use Fortune Fish to design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
Students can use the Fortune Fish in a number of different investigations of kinetic and thermal energy. Although all Fortune Fish have shared physical properties, due to the unique elasticity of each fish and the varying temperatures of students' hands, energy transfer can be explored in a new manner.
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