Grade Level: 6th – 8th; Type: Physics
Some materials insulate more effectively than others. This science project identifies the most effective insulator that you could use to make a winter coat.
- Which material insulates most effectively?
- Which material would make the warmest winter coat?
Which material do you think would make the warmest winter coat? Cotton padding? Wool material? Test out several materials with this science project, and see which one is the best insulator.
- Insulating material (e.g., cotton balls, newspaper, cloth, wool scarf)
- Tea kettle or pot
- Glass jars
- Clock or watch
- Measure out an equal amount of each insulating material.
- Boil enough water to fill all of the jars.
- Fill each jar about halfway with the boiling water.
- Quickly add insulating material to each of the jars. For example, you might wrap one jar with a cloth towel and put another jar in a box filled with the cotton balls. Make sure that the tops and the bottoms are covered with insulation as well. Leave one jar without any insulation as your control.
- Leave the jars for thirty minutes without checking on them.
- Unwrap each jar for as little time as possible and measure the temperature of the water using a thermometer. Rewrap the jar and record the measurement in a chart, such as the one below.
- Repeat this process after 60, 90, and 120 minutes.
- Analyze your data to figure out which material insulates the most effectively.
Terms/Concepts: Insulation; Conductivity; What materials are winter coats usually made from?
References: Experiments You Can Do in Your Backyard, edited by Joanna Callihan and Nathan Hemmelgarn, pp 58-59.