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Cool It!

based on 14 ratings
Author: Muriel Gerhard

Grade Level: 7th; Type: Physical Science

Objective:

To determine the best method of keeping an ice cube frozen.

Research Questions:

  • What are the states of matter?
  • How is water different from other substances when it freezes?
  • What is thermal energy?
  • What is the melting point of water?
  • How do scientists lower the melting point of water?
  • What is convection?
  • What is conduction?
  • What is radiation?
  • What is an insulator?
  • What substances are usually used as insulators?
  • When you go on a trip on a hot day, how do you transport liquids that need to be kept cold?

On the information level, this project will acquaint students with basic knowledge on conditions which determine the cooling and melting processes of water. In the case of most liquids, when they are frozen and become a solid, the molecules move more closely together. In the case of water we have an exception. They move apart. Water molecules in the solid state take up more space than they do as a liquid. They become ice. Since ice has a lower density than liquid water it rises to the surface and it floats. In this project, the student is attempting to insulate the ice so that it remains frozen. Given the fact that heat travels from where there is more to where there is less, preventing the heat from reaching the ice is the goal of this project. The key question being asked is what would be the best method of insulating the ice? Students will investigate the use of various insulating materials to determine which is the most effective.

As for the methodology of this project, this science fair experiment also serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process behave as one.

Materials:

  • Ice cubes
  • Zip lock plastic bags
  • Cotton balls
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wax paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • Small cardboard box
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Rubber bands

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Gather all the materials that you will need for this project which include: ice cubes, zip lock plastic bags, a Styrofoam cup with lid,  cotton balls, aluminum foil, wax paper, bubble wrap, a small cardboard box, newspaper, masking tape, rubber bands, a digital thermometer and a timer. You may wish to include a camera so that you can take photos of what you did and the results you obtained.
  2. Copy the Data Chart provided below so that you can readily record your observations.
  3. Record your hypothesis. Which of the materials which you plan to use as insulators will be most effective in preventing the ice cube from melting? Why do you think so?
  4. Start, by selecting one ice cube as the control. Place it on a plate and leave it at room temperature. Note and record the temperature in the room.
  5. Take one ice cube at a time, place one in a Zip lock bag, place one in the Styrofoam cup with lid, wrap one with cotton balls , one in aluminum foil, one in wax paper, one in bubble wrap, one in the small cardboard box, and one in a sheet of newspaper.
  6. At 20 minute intervals, inspect each of the cubes and record your observations. Did they melt a great deal, some or little?  Take and record the temperature of each .Repeat this step three times. Record your observations each time.
  7. Analyze your data. What did you discover? Was your hypothesis correct? If you were to repeat this project, what would you do differently?
  8. Write up your report. Make certain to include your responses to the research questions as well as your sources of information, namely your bibliography.

The Data Chart

Materials Used

Initial Temperature

Temperature at 20 minutes

Temperature at 40 minutes

Temperature at 60 minutes

Zip lock plastic bag

 

 

 

 

Styrofoam cup

 

 

 

 

Cotton balls

 

 

 

 

Aluminum foil

 

 

 

 

Wax paper

 

 

 

 

Bubble wrap

 

 

 

 

Cardboard box plus newspaper

 

 

 

 

control

 

 

 

 

 

Terms/Concepts: States of matter; Heat; Heat transfer; Conduction; Convection; Radiation; Melting; Melting point; Insulation

References:

  • Masterton, W., Slowinski, E., Walford E., Chemistry, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1980
  • Holt Science& technology, Water on Earth, New York, 2002 
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