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Ice Insulation

Handy tips for keeping your drinks cool

Australian Curriculum links

  • Science > Chemical Sciences > Year 3 > ACSSU046
  • Science > Physical Sciences > Year 3 > ACSSU049
  • Science > Nature and Development of Science > Year 7 > ACSHE223
  • Science > Earth and Space Sciences > Year 10 > ACSSU189
  • Mathematics > Measurement and Geometry > Year 4 > ACMMG084

You’ll need

  • Ice cubes
  • Foam cups
  • Plastic cups
  • Paper
  • Cotton wool
  • Different fabrics (preferably the same colour)
  • 2 Saucers

Try this

  1. Put an ice cube on each of the two saucers, and place a cover over one of the saucers. Leave the other ice cube uncovered.
  2. Place both of the ice cubes in direct sunlight.
  3. Using a watch or timer, check the ice cubes every minute to find out how long it takes for each piece of ice to melt.

Further investigation

  • Try the experiment using different fabrics to cover the saucers to find out which provides the best insulation.
  • Can you use your findings from this experiment to create the best can cooler to keep drinks cool while holding them?

What’s happening?

The materials used to create your cover add a layer of insulation to protect the ice cube from the Sun’s heat energy. Heat can transfer through different materials at different rates. Materials that are good insulators prevent heat from travelling through them very easily. In a house, insulation can be used in the ceiling, walls or floors to keep heat out in the summer and help trap heat inside in the winter, reducing the need for heating or cooling with fans or air conditioners and therefore reducing electricity consumption.