Today, we were given an opportunity to prove what we learned by creating the "Ultimate Insulated Bottle." Students were allowed to use as many materials as they wanted to wrap around the same bottle from last week and watch how well the temperature stayed constant. The only restriction was that it had to fit into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Students brought in items from home such as old socks, newspaper, and bubble wrap. I also provided some options like pieces of felt, old material swatches, and scraps of animal fur. Students used what they learned from their books and their earlier experiment to create insulating devices that were extremely impressive!
After twenty minutes, many of their temperature probes were reporting that the water inside the bottle was only a degree or two lower than its starting temperature. How amazing! Although I feel that students could have done well by just wrapping their bottle in five inches of anything, it's important to note that students took an active role in determining the best materials to use and they voiced their reasons to their partners, quoting reasons from the text and from their experiences! What a great opportunity for synthesizing!
Next year, I will make sure to require these partner-to-partner discussions and maybe even have them explain their reasons on a video that they can post on YouTube explaining why they chose the materials that they did. This will force everyone to have a purpose for each layer. I'm not sure that every partnership was equally thought out.
Taking a few minutes to analyze a lesson each day is getting me, incrementally, to become a better 21st Century educator. Focusing this lesson on synthesizing (in addition to the science concepts) made sense because it was an opportunity for students to combine what they knew before we started this unit with the experiences and knowledge they gained from our activities together. :)
Click here to see the Directions Page for this activity.
Below is a sample graph from this lesson. Notice how the warm water temperature only goes down a few degrees in 20 minutes! I'm impressed!!!