STEM Club Activity: Keeping It Cool
This resource from The Royal Academy of Engineering and STEMNET will introduce ideas about keeping materials and tools cool whilst in space, and try to encourage the students to apply these ideas during a hands on activity. The students work in groups to design, make, test and evaluate an appropriate heatshield to protect a square of chocolate from a heat source. In this instance the chocolate represents the payload of important equipment and tools on the solar orbiter and the heat source represents the Sun.
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Posted by simmo1977 on 26th April 2012
Activity time: 60-90 mins
Activity time: 60-90 mins
Prior knowledge: Thermal properties of materials.
Curriculum links: Resistant Materials
Skills: Design skills and applying scientific knowledge.
Preparation time: 30 minutes spent gathering resources. Chocolate purchased on way to school!
Extra resources: Video-projector/interactive whiteboard, Youtube video about the Solar Orbiter mission, heat source (warm water or hair dryer), thermometer, scissors, tape, glue, stopwatch, ruler, variety of materials (e.g. tin foil, bubble wrap, paper, plastics, cardboard), chocolate
Myself and a colleague ran this activity in our DT/Engineering club which is attended by pupils in Y7 and 8. We started off showing the pupils a short video about the Solar Orbiter mission to put the activity into context.
Pupils worked in 2/3s and were given a small amount of each material and 3 pieces of chocolate. They were given 20 minutes to experiment with the materials and carry out tests with the hair dryer to establish which were the best insulators. Pupils then designed and constructed their ‘heatshield’ container for final testing during which heat was applied by a hairdryer for one minute. The temperature of the outside of the chocolate was monitored accurately using a thermocouple.
A short discussion about why some designs worked better took place at the end of the session. A prize was awarded to the team whose chocolate melted the least.
The pupils really enjoyed this activity as the chocolate added an element of fun. It could also easily be expanded to suit older pupils.