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Material Magic    Mystery 2

Mystery 2 image

In this Mystery, students consider the insulating and conducting properties of different materials. In the activity, students test different materials to determine which material is best for making oven mitts.

Can you really fry an egg on a hot sidewalk?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 6)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 6)

Discuss: (1/2)

What would you use to get a hot dish out of the oven?

food_in_oven

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 6)

Discuss: (2/2)

coffee_without_sleeveWhat would you use to hold a cup of hot chocolate that’s too hot for your hands?

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Beginning Exploration (4 of 6)
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Beginning Exploration (5 of 6)

Discuss:
How can you find out which of these materials are insulating (can protect your fingers from a hot pan)?
materials_to_test

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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Activity Prep

Step 1: Get supplies and print worksheets.

For each pair of students, you will need:

  • a pair of socks (Have each student bring in a pair. You’ll still be OK if half the students forget!)
  • 2 aluminum foil squares torn off the roll (about 12” square)
  • 2 styrofoam cups (available at grocery stores or through Amazon)
  • a Feel the Heat worksheet

For the teacher:

For each table of students, you will need:

  • 2 plastic bottles — one filled with hot/warm water and one filled with cold/cool water

You’ll also need a source of hot water. You can fill bottles an hour or two ahead of class if you have a cooler (or a cardboard box and a bath towel) to keep the water bottles hot.

Step 2: Filling the bottles with hot and cool water.

The difference in temperature between the hot water and the cold water has to be enough to feel easily with bare hands. You can use ice water and warm water or you can use very hot water and cool water. You just need to make sure there is a definite difference.

You can keep your hot bottles hot (or your cold bottles cold) for a couple of hours if you put them in a cooler or a cardboard box with bath towels as insulation. The insulation keeps the heat from escaping the hot bottles (or the outside heat from warming the cold bottles).

Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Activity: Feel the Heat
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Beginning Exploration (6 of 6)
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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.

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Video Demonstration — Polar Bear Hands

Polar bears, whales, and seals stay warm in icy Arctic water because they have a layer of fat or blubber that insulates them from the cold.

In a short video, Carmelo the Science Fellow demonstrates how this works with two sandwich bags and some vegetable fat.

If you want to try this cool (in more ways than one) activity in your classroom, here are the New England Aquarium’s instructions for making a “blubber mitt.”

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Activity: The Mitten Experiment

Selina Smith combines science and literacy in a wonderful lesson exploring mittens. She begins with Jan Brett’s picture book, The Mitten (available at Amazon and as an online video).

Then she asks her students — “Are mittens warm?” To find the answer, students measure the temperature of the room, of an empty mitten, and of a mitten on someone’s hand. Results show that mittens alone are NOT warm. The wearer's hand is warm, and the mitten traps the heat.

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Exploration
island by Christopher Michel , used under CC BY
rooster by DIAC images , used under CC BY
eggs by Mnolf , used under CC BY-SA
palms by Katy Warner , used under CC BY-SA
fire by arwen57 , used under CC BY
pan by Juan de Vojníkov , used under CC BY-SA
burns by John Stone , used under CC BY
coffee by Nirzar , used under CC BY-SA
oven mitt by Lymantria , used under CC BY-SA
aluminium foil by Lewis Ronald , used under CC BY-SA
sand by Chris Oatley , used under CC BY
socks by Scott Bauer
cookware by Cooks Standard , used under CC BY
toes by Purpleblue , used under CC BY-SA
Activity
seagulls by Ruth Ellison , used under CC BY
pencil by Charm