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Keep Cool
Task with Student Directions
Contributed by: Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO/SCASS)


Welcome to this science exercise. We hope that you will find it interesting and fun. Carefully read through these directions and the directions on the next page before you begin to work.

You may be part of a group for the first part of this exericse. Each group should carry out the experiment and collect the information together. But each student must record the information in his or her own booklet. Be sure to record the information exactly as you see it. After the information has been collected, each student should answer the questions alone.

After you have finished your experiment and have recorded all of the information, you will be asked to answer some questions about the experiment and the information you recorded. Your answers must be written in this test booklet in the space provided. Make sure that you understand each question before you begin to write. At any time while you are writing your answers, you may look back to the directions for the experiment and the information you collected. Be sure that your answers are written as clearly and neatly as possible.

Before you turn the page, read the list of materials given below and check to make sure that your group has everything listed.

  • 3 thermometers
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 metal can
  • 1 Stryofoam cup
  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 container of ice water
  • 1 strainer or funnel
  • 1 clock
  • pen or pencil for each student



Keep it Cool!

You are planning to spend the day at the park with your friends. Since it is a hot day, you want to serve drinks that will stay cool. You have three types of containers you can bring. You have paper cups, Styrofoam cups, and metal cans. You aren't sure which one to choose, so you decide to test which type of container will keep liquid the coldest for 15 minutes.

Work in groups of four.

Step 1.

Set out the three types of containers and put a thermometer in each one.

Step 2.

Using the measuring cup, put equal amounts of ice water in each container. This amount should be enough to fill each container at least three-quarter full.

Step 3.

In the second column of the data sheet below, record the temperature of the water in each container after 30 seconds. Use the Celsius (oC) scale for all of your temperature measurements.

Temperature after 30 seconds (Step 3)
Temperature after 15 minutes (Step 4)
Total difference in temperature (Step 5)
Styrofoam cup      
Paper cup      
Metal can      

Now go back to your desk and answer Question 1, on the next page. After you answer the question, go back to the experiment and finish it. Look to see what time it is so you can return to your experiment when 15 minutes are up.

Step 4.

After fifteen minutes have passed, record the temperature of the water in each container.

Step 5.

Subract the beginning temperature from the temperature that was taken after fifteen minutes. Record the difference. This is the amount that the temperature changed.

Go back to your desk and answer Questions 2 and 3.


Please answer the following questions by yourself.

1. Which container do you think will keep the water coldest for fifteen minutes? Why do you think so?





2. Describe what happened to the water temperature in all three containers. Did the temperature change? If so, describe the change.





3. Suppose you are going on a picnic and will be serving soft drinks in cups. What kind of cup would you use to keep the drinks cold? Explain why you would choose that kind of cup.






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