Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students experiment with creating ‘eskies’ out of a range of materials, testing to see which materials best keep an ice cube from melting.

These Snappy Science resources have been created to boost science education in primary schools across Australia. Each lesson is designed to support teachers with the scientific knowledge, ideas and resources to stimulate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students. Many of the big issues that Australian society will face in the future are around technology, energy, resources and climate change. All of these require students to engage with science – but most of all to enjoy science!

Science at Home: These Snappy Science resources can also be used to engage families in fun science and learning for life. You can download a student friendly version of this activity here and you can also check out the Snappy Science Digital Library.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Australian Curriculum content description: This activity is relevant to Science Inquiry Skills across all primary year levels of the Australian Curriculum.

Year 3 Science

  • A change of state between solid and liquid can be caused by adding or removing heat (ACSSU046)

Year 5 Science

  • Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways (ACSSU077)

Year 6 Science

  • Changes to materials can be reversible, such as melting, freezing, evaporating; or irreversible, such as burning and rusting (ACSSU095)

Syllabus OutcomesST2-12MW, ST2-7PW, ST3-12MW.

Time required: 5 minutes to set up experiment, 5 minutes for observation every half hour until ice cubes have completely melted.

Resources required: Waxed paper, small cardboard box, aluminium foil, newspaper, styrofoam, fabric, other household items you can use to line a cardboard box, ice cubes, stopwatch/clock.

Safety advice: None.

Keywords: Esky, insulation, ice, melting.

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


Teacher Worksheet

Brief summary:

Students experiment with creating ‘eskies’ out of a range of materials, testing to see which materials best keep an ice cube from melting.

Students can use the Predict, Observe, Explain table on the Student Worksheet to describe and reflect upon this experiment.

You will need:

  • Several small cardboard boxes
  • Aluminium foil
  • Newspaper
  • Styrofoam
  • Fabric
  • Other household items you can use to line a cardboard box
  • Ice cubes
  • Stopwatch/clock

What to do:

Step 1. Take one cardboard box and line it with one of the household items. Repeat with the remaining cardboard boxes.

Step 2. Place an equal number of ice cubes in each box.

Step 3. Close the lids of the boxes, place them on a table or bench and set the stopwatch for half an hour.

Step 4. Check the ice cubes every half hour and record which boxes make the best eskies!

How does it work?

Some materials are good thermal conductors, easily letting heat (meaning both hot and cold temperatures) pass through t

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Student Worksheet

In this activity you will use different materials to stop ice melting.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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