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This science experiment is one of three experiments listed in my recent post What melts ice the fastest? Here, we learn about insulation by creating a simple science experiment with whatever is on hand. Your little scientists will be thrilled that they get to design their insulators!
To answer the question what is the best insulation to keep ice from melting? your mini-scientists will have to get creative as they design and test an insulator of their own. Using the materials you have on hand, challenge them to explore how different materials affect the melting time of an ice cube.
How long can you keep ice frozen for? See how mine worked in the photos below!
The three experiments in the post I linked above deal with heat energy. Heat energy can be transferred via conduction (when two objects are touching), convection (molecules moving), or radiation (electromagnetic waves).
While sometimes we want to melt to ice, we also want to keep it frozen sometimes, too! There’s a reason that yeti coolers have become so big in the last few years… They are so well insulated that ice stays cold for days (keeping food and drinks cold, too)!
If we want to prevent heat transfer, then we need to insulate our object! While a makeshift cooler may not have results as impressive as Yeti’s, we can design something to keep ice insulated.
While these activities are great on their own, you may want to use worksheets as a form of assessment. If so, either head to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to download my Free Don’t melt the ice! STEM challenge and worksheet bundle, or download the individual worksheet for this experiment as a PDF below. It’s a two-sided worksheet, so be sure to check your print settings!
I also have a Scientific method worksheet available for free in my shop.
As long as there is a control (an ice cube with no insulator), the way this experiment is designed is totally up to the children! Check out the suggested materials below for prompt ideas.
*Note: I’ve been told that using previously boiled water will prevent air bubbles in ice cubes. With a simple experiment like this, it isn’t detrimental to your results. But, without bubbles, the ice cubes will melt at a more even rate.
I was inspired by my last experiment, What melts ice the fastest? with one of my test materials. In that experiment, it took only 7 minutes for the control ice cubes to melt. But, the ice cube in the baking powder took 35 minutes! So, for this experiment, I used baking powder as one insulator and paper towel as another. Not wildly creative, I know, but it’s what I had!
I was pretty surprised at how long they took to melt. The control cube took 61 minutes to melt. The paper towel ice cube took 2 hours to melt. The baking powder took just about 3 hours to melt! Who knew baking powder was a good insulator?
There it is! That’s our simple science experiment for testing how long we can keep ice from melting. Who knew something as simple as preventing ice from melting could make for such a fun experiment?
And, if you’ve tried this experiment, we would love to hear how it went! What made a good insulator? What didn’t work?