Keep it Cool

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In this activity, learners explore how engineers have met the challenge of keeping foods, liquids, and other items cool. Learners learn about heat transfer, vacuums, and insulation and design a system to keep a cup of chilled water as cool as possible for one hour. Learners compare their results with that of other learners and reflect on the lesson.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Ice
  • Water
  • Large pitcher
  • Thermometer
  • Paper cup with chilled water
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic sheets
  • Fabric
  • Cotton balls
  • Moss
  • Cardboard
  • Additional paper cups
  • Tape
  • Cups
  • Straws
  • Paper clips
  • Clothes pins
  • Wire
  • String
  • Recycled packing foam
  • Fabric
  • Rubber bands


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
    • Chemistry
    • States of Matter
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, IEEE,