Skip to main content

Infant Incubator Lesson 18

How can we maintain consistent heat?

Student Sheet 

Teacher Answers 

Estimated class Time:

One 40-minute class period


How can we maintain consistent heat?


  • Beakers(food only)
  • Temperature probe & computer with graphing software
  • Hot plate
  • Ice
  • Chocolate
  • Petroleum jelly
  • OPTIONAL: fondue ingredients
    • Half and half
    • Pretzels
    • Marshmallows
  • Salt

Lesson Level Learning Objectives:

  • MS-ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.


Possible phenomenon discussion: Water bottle example

  • If a cold water bottle is left in a hot car, most of the water is warm, but some of the water will still be cold.  Melting ice or a large body of water could also be examples (water takes awhile to change either way)
  • Students interpret a water phase change graph to begin understanding how temperature changes as materials change states of matter.

Possible discussion: What materials could work in the incubator design? What are things that would melt when you hold it in your hand? (Materials to possibly investigate:  chocolate, water, petroleum jelly.)

  • Students will first experiment with water and collect data as it goes through phase changes.  To further investigate, students can experiment with other phase change materials such as chocolate or petroleum jelly.  They can use the results to help redesign the incubator.  If students experiment with chocolate, it is recommended to then add half and half and enjoy chocolate fondue as a snack.  Be sure to use a beaker for FOOD ONLY, if doing this activity.

What we Figured Out: 

  • Students learn that a phase change material is a substance with a high heat of fusion which, melting and solidifying at a certain temperature, is capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy. 
  • Students learn how a phase change material can improve their design.
  • Students will experiment with different materials to gather data to help choose a material that could work in their incubator.

Questions we still have:

  • How can we add the phase change material to our design? 
  • How can we keep the baby safe from this material? 


Infant Incubator Homepage