Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students use chilled water to test the properties of beverage containers to hold either hot or cold drinks. They use their findings to explain their recommendations for which containers are best for being used for different purposes. They take into account the ability to recycle the containers then develop a video advertisement that demonstrates their learnings.

NRW Logo 2012-10-00 LgeThis lesson has been developed as part of the Schools Recycle Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and to receive other free support materials.


Learning goals for this activity include: 

  • Students plan experiments to find solutions to a given problem. 
  • They use the results of the experiments to recommend the best materials for beverages. 
  • Develop a communication project that makes recommendations that also include environmental factors.  

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 9 Science:

  • Energy transfer through different mediums can be explained using wave and particle models (ACSSU182)
  • Plan, select and use appropriate investigation methods, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data; assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods (ACSIS165)
  • Analyse patterns and trends in data, including describing relationships between variables and identifying inconsistencies (ACSIS169)

Syllabus OutcomesSC5-5WS, SC5-6WS, SC5-7WS, SC5-10PW

Time needed: 50 min

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Students need to plan safe experimental procedures and look after equipment that is checked by their teacher.

Resources needed: A large source of chilled water to conduct many experiments. It may be easiest to buy a bag of ice and chill a large tub or portable cooler of water. Assume about two litres of water will be needed for each group. Equipment for measuring temperature e.g., digital thermometers, dataloggers with temperature probes, etc. A variety of clean beverage containers that are used for both hot and cold drinks. (Decide if this will or won’t include reusable beverage containers.) Have polystyrene and paper based coffee cups. Measuring jugs.

Digital technology opportunities: Data loggers, digital thermometers, video using mobile phone, tablet, notebook, etc.

There’s an app for that: iCelsius, a temperature probe, turns the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a digital thermometer. Requires separate hardware available from to operate. The app can work in demo mode if no probe is connected.

Assumed prior learning: Measuring temperature using units in centigrade with appropriate equipment, using equipment safely and, materials transfer heat at different rates. 

Key words: Variable, boiling, temperature, rate, insulation, insulated, conduction, heat, energy

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

These Planet Ark resources were developed by Cool Australia with funding from the Alcoa Foundation.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goals: Students plan experiments to find solutions to a given problem. They use the results of the experiments to recommend the best materials for beverages. Students develop a video advertisement that demonstrates their learnings.

Teacher content information: Temperature of a solid, liquid or gas is a direct measurement of the energy the particles are moving at. The word heat can be used to describe a higher temperature. Heat moves from material that is at a higher temperature to materials at a lower temperature. It is not correct to say cold is transferred. Materials feel cold because they absorb heat. High temperature materials will transfer their heat to the environment until they are the same temperature as their environment.

Materials conduct or transfer heat at different rates. Metals transfer heat quickly. Materials such as wood transfer heat much more slowly. The rate at which materials like metal and wood conduct heat means these ma

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Student Worksheet

Thought starters: What is your favourite drink? What type of container does it come in?

Step 1: Planning our experiments

Sorting Your Recycling - Video 1 

List the beverage containers you observed in the videos. What materials they are made from? What other beverage containers do you commonly use?

Beverage containers in the video

Material container is made from

Other beverage containers used for hot and cold drinks


List some of the most common beverages and suggest what properties their containers must have:


Properties the container must have

You will be designing experiments to investigate how different materials used in beverage containers transfer heat. First, you will need to identify some questions to be investigated. Examples of questions that can be investi

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