Competing in an Ice Cube Race

Part of the "Solar Cooking" Collection


Students will use an Ice Cube Race to investigate heat energy.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • S3P1. Students will investigate how heat is produced and the effects of heating and cooling, and will understand a change in temperature indicates a change in heat.
    • a. Categorize ways to produce heat energy such as burning, rubbing (friction), and mixing things.
    • b. Investigate how insulation affects heating and cooling.
    • c. Investigate the transfer of heat energy from the sun to various materials.


  • Ice cubes (1 per small group)
  • Portable cooler
  • Journals or 8.5×11 copy paper (1 per student)
  • Coloring supplies (enough for each student)


  1. While outside in the schoolyard, explain to students that each small group will be given an ice cube with the goal of melting it faster than any other group. Allow the small groups time to discuss and consider their strategy using what they know about heat energy.
  2. Provide each group with an ice cube and time how quickly each group can get theirs to melt. Analyze the results as a whole group and draw conclusions about heat energy to be recorded in student journals.
  3. Challenge students to consider what they would do differently if the goal was to preserve the ice as long as possible.