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In this engineering unit, students are developing background knowledge on heat, heat transfer and conservation. While this unit can be a stand-alone exercise, it has been designed to provide a way for students to gather data and derive evidence-based conclusions to help them choose the best materials to use in a science class solar cooker project. Students build cardboard houses to explore the movement and conservation of heat energy. A heat source is placed inside the house and students use vernier temperature probes and graphing software to gather and tabulate temperature data. Each house is standard, so that the students understand that we are all gathering data in a consistent way.
Students must calculate percentage of wall space given to doors and windows. Students will compare data from team to team, examining heat loss as recorded by temperature differences as a function of window and door areas. Students will cover doors and windows with various materials, examining different insulating qualities. Students will examine the effect on temperature of different colors of wall surface on the interior of the house. After gathering data, students will work to draw conclusions from the gathering of data. Students will construct charts and tables to tabulate data by hand, then will transfer data to Excel spreadsheets if technology is available.