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Everyday Engineering provides an inside look at the marvels of engineering in our everyday life. This article examines the different forms that ice cubes take and the different ways to examine them.
A selection from Science Scope—September 2012
My middle school students enjoyed the investigation determining whether or not the shape of the ice affects the speed of melting and rate of cooling the glass of water. The lesson was engaging in that students hadn’t ever really thought about the shape of the cube making a difference. The bonus in the lesson was when they were able to explore the tray itself as a net. Many had experience with nets in their Math classes, but never really thought about where they occurred in the real world.
As predicted, the students had a misconception around whether or not they were measuring the surface area or volume of the ice cube. In this lab, the volume is constant, while the surface area is changed. My students were able to calculate the volume of a rectangular prism, (LxWxH), but struggled with determining the surface area, A= 2(LxW) + 2(LxH) + 2(WxH). For many of my students, this was the first time they really thought about the difference between surface area and volume. This lab made the concepts come alive.
Sandy Gady (Renton, WA)
This article includes an investigation where students investigate different shapes of ice and how the shape affects speed of melting and the rate of cooling in a glass of water. In the investigation, they compare different shapes of ice with the same volume but different surface areas. I did this with my middle school students and was impressed with how difficult it was for my students to remember how to calculate surface area even though they had the concept in Math a mere month before. I really appreciated how they had the opportunity to apply Math in a real way to this lab for a concept they struggle with.
Students were quite surprised by the results and there was a lot of rich discussion occurring throughout the lab, Students are begging for more labs “just like this one.”
The 5E lessons provided in this article explores the shape of an ice cube with its effect on speed of melting and the rate of cooling a glass of water. This article explores the history behind standard ice cube trays, and much more. All samples are the same volume with only the shape of the cube changing. This is a great STEM activity for students.
Adah (San Antonio, TX)
This is a simple, yet elegant experiment that involves all areas of STEM. By comparing ice cubes of the same volume, yet different surface area, students experience engineering design principles along with science investigation. A 5E lesson plan is included.
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)
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