Lesson Plan #: AELP-GEN0018
An AskERIC Lesson Plan
AUTHOR: John Cowens; Greenwood Elementary, La Grande, OR 97850
GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: Appropriate for Grades 3-12
Have you ever wondered about all those polystyrene containers
the modern hamburger comes in? Do they really work? How much do they add
to the cost of your burger? What happens to them after you throw them away?
The following activity should stimulate some interest in these high-tech,
OBJECTIVES: As a result of this activity, students will be able
Design and carry-out an experiment to test the heat retaining effectiveness
of burger containers.
Collect data in the experiment and answer the following questions: (a)
What is the rate of heat loss of each type of container?
(b) Will doubling the container reduce the rate of heat loss by 1/2
ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:
Several brands and types of polystyrene burger containers.
Heat source to heat water to near boiling
Containers for water
Post Lab Questions:
Exhibit several types of containers in front of the students.
Ask students what the function(s) of the containers are.
Ask students if they KNOW whether or not they really work. Instruct them
to show proof.
Ask students to design experiments to prove how effective these containers
are at preventing heat loss.
Carry-out experiments: Have the students report their data on a large "class
data" chart. Class data can be analyzed determining the mean, median, mode,
Ask students to graph the data. On one line, graph the temperature vs.
time (which would show directly the heat loss rate comparisons.
State conclusions, answers to your original questions.
Extensions: Discuss and/or research the following questions:
How effective do the containers retain heat? Compare results with your
Which container retains heat the best?
What effect does doubling or tripling the container have on the rate of
What are the containers made of?
How are they made?
How much do they cost?
Are there any hazards or detriments to the environment caused by manufacture,
use, or disposal of these types of containers?
Can you design a better container?
These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have
attended the Columbia Education Center's Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium
of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of
education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality
of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of
their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers
to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at
This activity has been copied, with permission, from the
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) server to ours, to
allow faster access from our website. We encourage you to explore the
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