1. Down jacket
  2. Gloves/mittens
  3. Cotton sock
  4. Wool sock
  5. Other types of cloth or clothing
  6. Plastic foam
  7. Dirt
  8. Large piece of paper
  9. Aluminum foil
  10. Leaves
  11. Fiberglass insulation material (ask your parents if there is any extra around! Use gloves to handle so the fiberglass doesn't irritate your skin.)
  12. Baby food jars with lids -- one for each of the different materials you'll be checking.
  13. Large board to place all your items on -- a large tray will work too!
  14. A gallon jug of water or hot water (don't scald yourself) from a sink.
  15. A good thermometer
  16. A note book and pencil
Do this experiment over a sink.

On a page in the notebook, list all of the different items you'll be testing.

Quickly fill all the baby jars with hot water from the jug.

Measure the temperature of the water in each jar then screw on the lid. Record the temperature of each jar. They should all be the same temperature.


Wrap or surround each of the jars in one of the materials. And place on the tray or board. Leave one jar uncovered as a "control."

Carry the board outside where it's colder.

After leaving the jars outside for a specific period of time, take off the materials, unscrew the lids and measure the temperature of the water in each jar. Write down the temperature in your notebook next to each item.

Compare the differences between the temperatures of each of the jars. Which one(s) kept the water same temperature as before?

Try the experiment again, but this time, leave the jars outside longer (one, two, three hours or more). What materials work better. Is there a point where none of the materials works to keep the jars hot?


You'll learn that some materials make good insulators. These are the types of materials that we should use to keep a house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This experiment should also can tell us what materials will keep our bodies warm in the winter -- for example would a jacket made of down be better than a jacket made from cotton? Or will wool socks keep your feet warmer than cotton socks in the winter? Should you switch in the summer because one type of material will help you stay cooler?

| EQ Homepage | Energy Story | Science Projects | Library | Games|
| News | Find It | Links | About EQ | Privacy Info | Contact Us |

© 2006 California Energy Commission. All rights reserved.