Design Challenge: How to Keep Gelatin from Melting

This Design Challenge: How to Keep Gelatin from Melting lesson plan also includes:

The inside of the spacecraft Messenger, which explores Mercury, will experience temperatures from 32 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit. In the final installment of a series of four space-related activities, groups spend time discussing and designing a device that will allow gelatin to sit on a heat source but not melt. Groups use their knowledge of the scientific method, thermodynamics, and problem solving to design and test their devices. They then discuss how scientists use this same process when designing spacecraft. 

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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Model a gelatin square melting on a hot surface and then state the challenge; design and create a way for the gelatin to sit on the heat but not melt. This visual may spark some ideas and get learners excited
  • If not known already, teach about conduction, convection, and radiation before beginning
Classroom Considerations

  • Activity duration states one week to one month. Depending upon discussions, level of your pupils, and teacher planning, duration may take a few days or up to one month
  • Some groups may struggle in their design phases, based on ability; teachers may want to assign groups so that one to two advanced students are in each
Pros

  • Provides everything teachers may need: worksheets, extensive background information, rubric for assessment, answer key, extension ideas, and discussion points
  • Materials to gather are few and simple, so the activity is easy to incorporate into a unit
Cons

  • None
Common Core

NGSS