By convention there is color,

By convention there is sweetness,

By convention there is bitterness,

But in reality there are atoms and space.

Democritus (400 BC)

Scroll Down for Ice Cube Coolers Information and an important change in the project design.

Common sense convinces us that the world is solid, permanent, and more or less unchanging. But science tells us that matter is not what it appears to be and that everything that exists in the universe (from the smallest amoeba to the largest galaxy of stars) is made of tiny, invisible particles.

Conductors and Insulators

Helpful Links For Learning About Time and Math

ONLINE STOPWATCH TIMER: Click here to use a stopwatch online to time anything.

Fullscreen online calculator:

Want to practice your clock reading skills? Try here: Animated Clocks:

Another fun way to practice learning to tell time: Click

MathIsFun also has many kinds of math puzzles, problems, and games for all ages.



(click here to print PDF that includes all information below; click here to print Cooler Project Checklist for all the steps needed to complete the project.)

Each third grader must design and build a container at home that will keep a container of ice from melting for as long as possible.  This project is a required assignment for all third graders in Mr. Hanck’s science classes.

On Wednesday, December 2nd (Ruelas, Park, Phillips, Palumbo classes) and on Thursday, December 3rd (Davis and Wortinger classes) the third grade science classes will begin testing their Ice Cube Coolers.

  • FIBERGLASS INSULATION: I urge all parents NOT to let their kids use fiberglass insulation in their coolers. Handeling fiberglass is not something young kids should be doing. For more information about this see the link to the Illinois Department of Public Health web site here:
  • Each student's cooler has to be big enough to hold one "baby soda bottle" (approximately 12cm. tall by 2.5 cm. in diameter). Click here to see a picture.
  • The cooler has to be designed in such a way that it is possible to check the ice to determine when the ice is completely melted. It must be possible to remove and then replace the "baby soda bottle" in the cooler. Kids will be required to remove the bottle in order to check for ice when they test their coolers.
  • Commercial (store bought) coolers cannot be used.  Students are expected to make their own coolers from everyday insulating materials and cannot put chemicals or any frozen or super cold materials in the cooler ( no dry ice, ice, frozen metal, etc.) to keep the ice from melting. The cooler is meant to be an insulated container, not a refrigerator.
  • Students should test their coolers at least two times at home and are encouraged to make improvements before bringing them to school. Any cooler tested at home should be tested indoors at room temperature.
  • Students must bring their coolers to school on or before Monday, November 30th.
  • Additional information about heat, conductors, and insulators that would be helpful to students can be found below on this page.
  • This is a science project, not a competition or a contest.
  • All students are expected to honestly and fairly report the results of their cooler experiments. A parent or responsible adult should witness any experiments completed at home and initial the time sheet and Time Tag to verify that the results were reported accurately.
  • In cases where the reported results cannot be verified, or where the results are well beyond the range of normally expected results, students may be asked to bring their containers to school to repeat the experiment in science class.


Can students work as partners?

Students may work together when they build their coolers, but every student must make his or her own cooler.

Can parents, siblings, or other adults help?

Others may help with the project, but this is a student project and most of the work should be done by the student.

What if I forget to check my cooler and when I check it the ice is completely melted?

If the ice melts and you have no real idea when it melted you will need to bring your cooler back to school and get a new ice cube and start the experiment again.

What if I have to go to bed before my ice has melted?

You can ask someone else at home to check on the cooler for you. If this is not possible then you can bring your cooler to school and get another ice cube and try the test again.

Is there a prize for the cooler that keeps the ice solid the longest?

There is no prize. This is not a science project, not a contest.

How can I find out what kinds of materials will make a good cooler?

Check Mr. Hanck's links above for information about "insulators". A good cooler should use materials that are good insulators.

Is Aluminum foil a good heat conductor or a good heat insulator? Check WikiAnswers here, and here:

2006 Third Grade Cooler Results

2007 Third Grade Cooler Results

2008 Third Grade Cooler Results

2009 Third Grade Cooler Results

2009 Pictures: Coolers and Students

2010 Cooler Pictures

2011 Cooler Pictures

2012 Cooler Pictures

2013 Cooler Pictures

2014 Cooler Pictures

2015 Cooler Pictures
  • Davis: Pictures: Results
  • Palumbo: Pictures: Results
  • Park: Pictures: Results
  • Phillips: Pictures: Results
  • Ruelas: Pictures: Results
  • Wortinger: Pictures: Results
















Snow Crystals

Soap Bubbles

Home Science Recipes

Here are a couple of "recipes" for things that use ordinary household foods. All are a bit messy but can easily be cleaned up. Make the cleanup a part of the activity. "Gobbledeegoo" is the messiest and has limited appeal. But salt dough can be used for all sorts of craft projects--making ornaments, animals, pretend food, people, snowmen, model cars, etc.

Salt Dough

3 cups flour + 1 cup salt + 1 cup water

Any amount of dough can be made as long as the same proportion of salt to flour is kept. Dissolve one cup of salt in warm water. It takes some doing to get all the salt to dissolve, so feel free to begin even though some salt does not dissolve.

Add enough water to the flour to make it doughy. Putting water or flour on your hands and kneading the dough is the easiest way to make it so it feels right. Knead until it is all the same. The dough can then be shaped. Baking the finished shapes in the oven (or microwave) will make the dough quite hard and almost like ceramics. Paint or other decorations can then be added.


corn starch and water

Mix enough water to make the corn starch doughy and thick enough to pick up and knead. It acts like both a liquid and a solid. Shapes can be made, but they won't last as the starch will dry out and return to a powder in a day or so.


You’ll need some Twenty Mule Team Borax, white glue (Elmer’s or something similar), food coloring, two disposable containers, and water. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of borax in a cup of water. Not all will dissolve. Throw away what does not dissolve and keep the liquid.

You are going to mix glue, water, and borax water together in rough proportions of 5, 4, and 2 parts each. Use any convenient measure (tablespoon, teaspoon, or plastic disposable cup). A disposable plastic container (or coffee can) can be the mixing bowl. Or you can mix a small amount inside a plastic bag to avoid getting the stuff on your hands. (But kneading it is really half the fun!)

Thoroughly mix glue and water together, in equal parts. Add food coloring of your choice. Then add 2 parts borax water to the mixture and stir quickly or knead by hand! Mixture stiffens rapidly. Knead until it becomes the consistency of firm jell-o. Clean up with warm water. Throw away extra ingredients. To store Oobleck for long periods of time, keep it in a sealed plastic ziploc bag and keep it refrigerated.

Caution: Oobleck can be safely handled, but Oobleck should not left where small children might eat some. (It would be like eating Borax Detergent and Elmer’s glue!).

[Oobleck recipe courtesy of Golden Apple Foundation.]