It's Getting Hot In Here (Testing Insulated Thermoses) #4850


This is a discussion for the It’s Getting Hot In Here (Testing Insulated Thermoses) Experiment. Feel free to connect with the Learning Team here, or to discuss experiment tips, ask questions, leave comments or suggest experiment variations here.


Q: You need to melt some butter on the stove. You need to choose a pot made out of a good thermal conductor to get the job done. Here are your options: a hand carved, artisan pot made out of wood, a pot made out of glass, a pot made out of metal, none of the above.
A: A pot made out of metal.

  1. Where does this lesson fit in with your curriculum (if the lesson is not a fit for the class you teach, how could the lesson be modified so that it is applicable to your curriculum)?
    This one took a little thought. But then I realized that students could do comparison graphing when studying linear graphing. I tested different types of insulated 20 oz. thermoses. This could be done as an all day project with the students in first period starting the experiment and then each class doing readings twice during class so that all reading are approximately 30 minutes apart excluding lunch and, if there is an open period, during that. Then the next day the data can be combined. Students can determine if the data is linear, slope of the line, equation of the lines, etc. Then they can also discuss efficiency of the different types of thermoses. I would have each set up the Arduino and board so each class gets the opportunity to do the wiring…
  2. Which part or parts of the lesson would your students need extra support in order to be successful?
    Making sure they connect the sensors to the board correctly. Also to make sure they have the sensor covered well so it does not get wet.
  3. If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your role during the class. What does a successful teacher actively do during this lesson?
    Provide support as needed. Ask higher level questions that will make students think strategically.
  4. If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your student’s role during the class. What does “student success” look like?
    Being able to successfully wire the Arduinos and boards and take accurate reading or the temperatures. Then to be able to calculate the slope, determine if the graphs are linear, make predictions and discuss efficiency.


I love this lesson! I do a related lesson at the beginning of the year to teach the scientific method where I give the students random supplies and have them create the best insulating container. I would use this lesson when we talk about the different types of heat transfer. I would try and scaffold less of the lesson and hopefully my students would remeber the lesson from earlier in the year and use that backgrounf knowledge for this letter. Like all of the lessons so far the part that would be the hardest would be setting up the sensor. Student success would be using what they have learnedin the past and applying it to this lesson. I would expect them to be able to create an accurate temperature graph on their own.


Where does this lesson fit in with your curriculum (if the lesson is not a fit for the class you teach, how could the lesson be modified so that it is applicable to your curriculum)? This one has me thinking…in earth science I do a lab that focuses on convection in the mantle and we heat a rheoscopic fluid to demonstrate convection currents. I want to see if this would work that students could see the changes in the fluid temperature at locations where the current is heating and rising and then cooling and sinking. I think this could be powerful for students to visualize.
Which part or parts of the lesson would your students need extra support in order to be successful?
Students would love setting up this lab, but I would want to put in some extra steps to ensure that the sensors were not damaged during testing and that they had an accurate data collection process.
If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your role during the class. What does a successful teacher actively do during this lesson? I would be asking students to explain any trends in the data that they were seeing and what they expected the outcomes to be. I would be troubleshooting and looking at design set-up and checking that sensors were being protected.
If you were to teach this lesson to your class, describe your student’s role during the class. What does “student success” look like? **I would expect students to have a well thought out data collection system and be able to explain their methods. I would want them to be able to make predictions and see trends in their data. I would want them to be thinking about connections to real life problems. (ie: how could we use this information to design a cheap lightweight thermal insulated blanket to distribute to refugees who have to brave the elements).**Lots of thought provoking discussions.


I like your idea of using this as a way to assess student knowledge of the scientific method at the beginning of the year! This would be a great warm-up!


Hello Everyone, as we finish up our final week of Astroschool I know that I want to keep learning more about how I can use this platform in my classroom this fall. I want a yearly subscription! I have created a DonorsChoose Project in hopes of securing the funds to pay for it. I am a DonorsChoose Teacher Ambassador and if you have never written a project before and would like some help please let me know. If you have never written a DC project and you use this link I will use the $25 gift code for referring a new teacher back to you as a donation on your project. Here is my link: You can also look up my project as an example here: Thanks, Jill~


I would love to be able to get funding to get a class set of Arduino sets and a subscription. I have no idea how to write a grant or a Donors Choose Project if that would cover it. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Tina Gilligan


I have been thinking a lot about the sensors and keeping them from getting damaged. The first thing needed is to make sure the water is not to hot. I did not have a way to measure how hot my water was while I was heating it so when I first put the sensor in it with a plastic bag I realized very quickly that the bag was starting to melt. So I knew I had the water much too hot. So make sure you have a thermometer to keep track of the water temperature while you are heating it. Then I think when the sensor is placed in the plastic before putting it in the water, make sure there are no holes in the plastic, then secure it tightly with tape around the top, making sure there is enough wiring so that the top of the plastic gets nowhere near the water. Finally, remind students how important it is that the sensors are very delicate and they need to be careful not to damage them. If they get damaged then the days of using them for experiments will be over and that would be disappointing for them as well as us.


I love that this is a fully developed scientific investigation. We don’t really use the scientific method anymore, but thinking about how to structure an investigation is always useful. Students still need to understand how to start with a question, make a hypothesis, carefully consider variables and gather and analyze data, then ultimately communicate their findings. I would use this as a practice activity to prepare them for the investigations built into our curriculum.

Students would need support with setting up the sensors and making sure the program is running correctly. I tried this at home and had a hard time with being able to see the data from the sensor.

My role would be to model the steps of an investigation and then leave it to the students to decide which variables they want to investigate. I would be monitoring to make sure they were controlling all variables and recording data accurately.

Students would be planning and conducting their own version of the investigation. I liked the options of testing brand or size, and I bet students could think of more. Type of liquid, shape of container (variation on size)…
Success looks like a completed investigation where students are able to communicate their results and findings.

Testing the family collection of Hydroflasks:



I was thinking about this too. I had my 5th grade son working with me at home yesterday and I saw how engaged he was (it even tore him away from the evil Fortnite!) I would love to get these into our schools in my district and provide training for teachers to facilitate the learning.!


Tina, I am happy to help you. I would start your very first project small. If you have Amazon Prime they are an available vendor on the DC site. For your first project it can be up to $2000 but it would be best to keep it around 300 or less . Unfortunately, writing a project for the subscription cost isn’t possible with your first project because you need to build up points due to it being a special request that is 6 points and they only give you 3 points as a new teacher and subscription costs are not available on one of the DC vendor websites. Start by following the link I provided you need to set up your teacher account it is very guided on the website and I am happy to walk you through any questions you have just let me know what you need . You will need a good classroom picture that is not a close-up of any faces .


Did all the hydroflasks give the same results? It would be cool to see if different models had different efficencies.


We were not able to complete the experiment because the data would not display. Tried it on the computer where you open it in a new tab, and it worked at first, then quit. We did all the troubleshooting steps and couldn’t get it back. I wanted to know too since there are so many sizes and shapes (and we seem to own them all!)


This experiment was in danger of not being completed due to lack of thermoses. I had a couple to use but I was looking for about 6 to get some real data. Fortunately some teachers and students pulled through and we were able to pull it off in the last days of the school year. It was once again a brutal competition to see who’s was best. Bragging rights were on the line and some egos had to be massaged afterwards, in the end it was a huge success. The one thing that took the longest was me nostalgically searching the interwebs for a He-Man or Transformers thermos from the 80’s. I remember having a few from back in the day and taking them with me to lunch each day at school. I wanted to see how they hold up to today’s technology but honestly just wanted to have one again. Unfortunately, prices were too high or I had to wait longer than the Prime 2 days that I am accustomed to.
This experiment was fairly easy to pull off. Students had very little problem setting up and conducting the experiment. The little help they needed was to have it setup correctly to get a solid reading.
This project would be a great one day unit to introduce product design. How the bottle is designed, both for function and visually appealing as well.


This might be common sense but I will throw it out there anyways. In a classroom where hot water is not easily accessible, I have used electric water kettles. For $10-15 at Walmart you can get a cheap plastic kettle that just plugs in to an outlet. It will boil the water in a short amount of time. Obviously boiling water would not be the best for the students to handle or for the instruments involved so we just turned it off before the boiling point and used it the way it was. You might have to experiment ahead of time with amount of water vs. time plugged in to get an optimal temperature.
I am sure everyone has figured out a way to heat water in their respective rooms but if you need another option, that has worked well for me in the past.


Yes- we have needed hot water for other activities and I found the same thing. The electric kettle heats quickly and is inexpensive.

I also thought handling hot water was a safety concern, so I made sure I was the one pouring and transporting it across the room to the students’ work area.


In our matter unit we do an experiment making ice cream with different amount of rock salt as we learn about freezing point. Then we try to design a water bottle that will keep drinks cool. I think this would be easily adapted to be incorporated with that STEM project. I would be concerned about all of my 5th graders being careful enough with the sensors in bags. I would love to have students share their designs and results and then on a different day, maybe even later in the year, giving them an opportunity to redesign. Students would be successful if they were able to improve their redesign from their original design, as well as accurately use and apply our vocabulary, such as freezing point.


That’s a great idea! I think that’s much safer than my hot plate!


I love this so much! Thank you for sharing! Check out our Ice Cream science lesson—I wonder if it’s similar!