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In this NGSS aligned STEM challenge, students use their engineering skills and heat transfer knowledge to design and build a container to keep ice frozen. Students are guided through the engineering design process while they identify constraints, create a plan, and build their container. Students select up to 3 items from a list to make their containers and then test them by leaving them out for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes students make measurements and compare it to a control ice cube that has not been insulated.
There are two versions of the activity depending on the level of your students and the equipment you have available. The first activity uses digital scales to measure the ice cubes before and after the experiment. I use scales that measure to the nearest tenth of a gram. After measuring the mass before and after, students calculate the percent of ice that is remaining. In the second version, students measure how much ice has melted using a graduated cylinder and do not have calculations.
After completing the first test, you have the option of continuing onto part 2 – improving, redesigning, and testing.
In addition, there are two worksheets for students to reflect on the process and apply their learning about heat transfer, thermal insulators, and thermal conductors.
15 cm squares of: foil, bubble wrap, fleece fabric, cardboard
8.5 x 11 in paper
Digital gram scales or 10 mL graduated cylinders
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