14 Jan STEM Challenge -Great Gloves & Mittens Challenge
Our monthly theme for January is Winter Wonderland! It is getting colder outside, and everyone is wearing extra layers, coats, and winter hats and gloves to stay warm! At the end of this challenge we will be able to answer: Where did we get the idea to wear more layers when it is cold outside, and what are the best materials and designs for clothes that keep us warm? This week we are going to design and build a glove or mitten that helps insulate your hands from the cold. You will test your glove/mitten by wearing it while you stick your hand in ice!
To start this challenge, you are going to listen to a reading of the book, Animals in Winter, this book will introduce you to some of the ways animals have adapted to cold climates and seasons. This might make you wonder how humans have adapted to the cold and what ideas we have borrowed from these animals.
Animals use their fat reserves or fur for insulation: this insulation helps keep heat inside of their body. But humans don’t have fur to stay warm, so what if your hands were really chilly, how could you keep them warm? You might put on some mittens or gloves to insulate your skin from the cold air. But what materials make the best finger insulators?
You can choose any materials you’d like to create your glove/mitten. Raiding the recycling bin is a must. Here are some ideas!
- various fabrics, i.e. denim, leather, vinyl, cotton, felt, wool
- cotton balls
- packing peanuts
- packing air pockets
- bubble wrap
- tin foil
- a kid-friendly thermometer
- bucket or big bowl
- ice cubes
- Stopwatch or timer
- Printable data and observation sheet
- Plan out your design ideas. Draw and make some notes about the materials you plan on using and why you believe they will be the best to keep your hand warm.
- Start building your glove or mitten. You can change and tweak your design as you go. Engineers make many changes to their plans as they begin to build.
- Test it out! Fill up a bucket with ice. Put your glove or mitten on your hand. Stick it in the ice and wait a few minutes. Is the glove keeping your hand warm? If not, what can you do to make it better?
- Let’s collect some data. You can use our observation sheet to help you keep track. Write down the temperature on the thermometer before you start, then put the thermometer in your mitten or glove and stick it back in the ice. Wait for:
- 30 seconds
- 1 minute
- 3 minutes
When the time is up at the above times, pull your thermometer out. Did the temperature change? How well did your glove insulate the thermometer from the ice? Try shorter or longer amounts of time if you would like
5. Think about your design. Now that you’ve tested it, are there things you’d like to change?
6. Make changes or re-design
7. Test again!
You can extend this project by asking other related questions, like these:
- If your mitten or glove is not waterproof or water resistant, what can you do to make it so?
- If you put an ice cube inside your glove how long does it take to melt? Can you create a glove that keeps an ice cube frozen for a long time? Remember, insulators help keep things cold too!
Have fun experimenting!
Don’t forget to send a photo of you and your final product to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, January 18!
Idea and photo credit: Only Passionate Curiosity