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Designing and Testing a Device to Thaw a Watering Station

A Carolina Essentials™ Design Challenge
Closeup of Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia) cat drinking water in zoo cage

Overview

Understanding the flow of thermal energy can be a difficult task for students, but it can be tackled through a design challenge. In this activity, students use the scenario of a habitat that must occasionally thaw its watering stations. After determining the heat released during the solvation of calcium chloride, students design, test, and improve a device to thaw and prevent freezing of watering stations. Designs are scored on how long the water remains liquid and the cost per device.

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Teacher Notes
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Student Worksheet
Closeup of Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia) cat drinking water in zoo cage
Grade & Discipline
6-8

Physical Science. Grades 6-8.

Time Requirements
Prep45 min
Activity3-4.5 hr

Teacher Prep: 45 min
Student Activity: 4 to 6 45 min sessions

Safety Requirements
Safety Gloves RequiredSafety Goggles Required

Overview

Understanding the flow of thermal energy can be a difficult task for students, but it can be tackled through a design challenge. In this activity, students use the scenario of a habitat that must occasionally thaw its watering stations. After determining the heat released during the solvation of calcium chloride, students design, test, and improve a device to thaw and prevent freezing of watering stations. Designs are scored on how long the water remains liquid and the cost per device.

Save & Print
Teacher Notes
Save & Print
Student Worksheet

Phenomenon

Teacher demonstration

Pour 500 mL of water in a 1,000 mL beaker and take the temperature of the water. Activate an instant ice pack, submerge it in the beaker of water, and take the temperature of the water 5 minutes later. Ask students how the temperature change can be explained.

One Ring-tailed Lemur drinks the water from stone pot

Essential Question

How can chemical processes be used for heat transfer?

Objective

Design, test, and improve a device that can prevent the freezing of water in a watering station.

Next Generation Science Standards* (NGSS)

MS-PS1-6. Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.

Science and Engineering Practices

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

  • Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

PS1.B: Structure and Properties of Matter

  • Some chemical reactions release energy, others store energy.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

  • A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it.

Crosscutting Concepts

Energy and Matter

  • The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.

Safety Procedures and Precautions

Wear gloves and safety goggles.

Teacher Preparation and Disposal

Gather supplies for the phenomenon and engineering challenge. Copy or upload student the activity guide.

Calcium chloride needs to be disposed of according to state and local regulations. Consult your chemical hygiene plan and SDS. Dispose of the cold pack according to package instructions.

Student

Teacher

Phenomenon

  1. Student: Pour 500 mL of water in a 1,000 mL beaker and take the temperature of the water.

Phenomenon

  1. Teacher: Put data in a model table so all students can see the results. You may want to record and broadcast the demonstration.
  1. Activate an instant cold pack.
  1. Submerge the pack in the beaker of water.
  1. ake the temperature of the water 5 minutes later.

Guided Research: Dissociation of Calcium Chloride

  1. In a weigh boat, measure 12.0 g of calcium chloride (CaCl2 ).

Guided Research

  1. To save time, you may want to preweigh the calcium chloride for each group.
  1. In the graduated cylinder, measure 100 mL of water and pour it into the beaker.
  1. Take the temperature of the water and record it in the data table.
  1. Add the CaCl2 to the beaker and stir gently with the spoon while taking the temperature.
  1. Emphasize to students to record the highest temperature reached.
  1. Record the highest temperature reached.
  1. Stop and discuss the meaning of these results and the implications for design.
  1. Repeat the same procedure with 6.0 g of CaCl2 and 100 mL of water.

Engineering Design Project

  1. Review the project specifications.

Engineering Design

  1. You may wish to print the design project worksheet for each group.
  1. Complete the design and testing phases using the Carolina™ Engineering and Design Process Worksheet.
  1. Provide the cost for each material you supply. If students bring other materials, they will need to know the cost.
  1. Share your final design and data with the class.
  1. Student information: cost of CaCl2 = $0.02/g
  1. Inform students of how you want them to present their final design. They can choose a formal written report, slide presentation, video presentation, or other medium.

Data and Observations

Answers for temperatures will vary depending on the initial temperature of the water. Generally, 6.0 g of CaCl2 should produce half of the change in temperature when compared to the 12.0 g. An increase of about 20 to 21° C for the 12 g of CaCl2 is typical

Data Table

Exothermic Reaction

data table showing exothermic reaction

Analysis & Discussion

Present your final design with supporting evidence to the class. Use the engineering worksheet and project specifications for the basis of the presentation.

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of, and do not endorse, these products.

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