Based on detecting long-wavelength infrared (IR) radiation emitted by the subject, IR imaging shows temperature distribution instantaneously and heat flow dynamically. As a picture is worth a thousand words, an IR camera has great potential in teaching heat transfer, which is otherwise invisible. The idea of using IR imaging in teaching was first discussed by Vollmer et al. in 2001.1–3 IR cameras were then too expensive for most schools. Thanks to the growing need of home energy inspection using IR thermography, the price of IR cameras has plummeted and they have become easy to use. As of 2011, the price of an entry-level handheld IR camera such as the FLIR I3 has fallen below $900 for educators. A slightly better version, FLIR I5, was used to take the IR images in this paper. As easy to use as a digital camera, the I5 camera automatically generates IR images of satisfactory quality with a temperature sensitivity of 0.1°C. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how these affordable IR cameras can be used as a visualization, inquiry, and discovery tool. As the prices of IR cameras continue to drop, it is time to give teachers an update about the educational power of this fascinating tool, especially in supporting inquiry-based learning.

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