Fifth Graders Take the Heat

This fall, 5th graders were presented with an engineering design challenge that provided a hands-on investigation into different types of heat transfer. Given only a few materials, students designed a shield to protect a bolt from heating up and melting glue adhered to a wooden rod, causing the structure to fall apart. An unprotected bolt lasts only four seconds under a blowtorch, so students were tasked with designing a shield that could extend that time.

The students were able to work on their shields in a newly renovated lab space. “It proved to be an excellent area for the class to discuss the challenge and collaborate with group members,” said Fifth Grade Science Teacher Branson Lawrence.

Once built, students tested their heat shields outside. The top group was able to keep their glue protected from the blowtorch for over a minute! This experiment concluded the students’ first Earth Science unit and gave them a better understanding of the differences between conduction, convection and radiation.