Doghouse Design

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This activity (on page 2 of the PDF under SciGirls Activity: Doghouse Design) is a full inquiry investigation into absorption and reflection of radiant energy. In order to build a house that keeps a dog as cool possible in the heat, learners set up an experiment to find out if paint color effects temperature. Learners will paint shoe boxes with different colors. Then, they set thermometers inside to take initial readings and measure how the temperature of each box changes after 20 minutes under a heat lamp, comparing the sets of readings in a simple bar graph when they’re done. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Doghouse Design

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • two or three shoe boxes
  • two colors of paint, one light (like pale yellow), one dark (like navy blue, or black)
  • two heat lamps (use 250-watt infrared bulbs sold in most home hardware stores) and an adjustable light source (gooseneck desk lampswork great)
  • two thermometers


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Rate
    • Reasoning and Proof
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
    • Energy
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Highlights STEM opportunities for this group
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2006

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 436260