Unit Overview

Students explore heat transfer as they engineer chemical cold packs and insulation for a container that keeps medicine cool.

  • Grades 6-8
  • Setting: In school
  • Science connection: Thermal Energy Transfer
  • 9 lessons
  • 45 minutes per lesson

Standards alignment

We’ve developed each YES unit with careful attention to NGSS standards. YES units are also designed to integrate with the most popular elementary and middle school curricula. View Standards Alignment

Unit Map

Students are introduced to engineering by designing a phone stand to solve an everyday problem.
Students consider who is most impacted by hot temperatures damaging medications and use this knowledge to identify criteria.
Teams test various materials to generate a class ranking of which work best to slow thermal energy transfer.
Students investigate how they might use solutions of potassium chloride in water for cooling.

Students establish the remaining criterion and constraint, independently brainstorm ideas, and develop a plan as a team.

Engineering teams plan their tasks and assign roles to create their medicine cooler designs.
Teams test their medicine coolers, plot the temperature versus time data from testing, and evaluate their designs.
Teams iterate and use test data to compare their second design to their original design.
Students display their coolers and act as users to “shop” for ones that meet their needs. Students reflect on their growth as engineers.

Teacher Preparation Videos

Model Phone

Clamp Lamp

Videos for Students

The Problem

Materials Investigation Procedure

Potassium Chloride Investigation

Consider Users

Computer Science Modules

Heatwave Visualizations

Students visualize heatwave data to identify which regions and people may be most impacted by hot temperatures to help them engineer a medicine cooler. This module uses free MATLAB interactives from MathWorks. 

  • 3 lessons
  • 45 min each

Medicine Cooler Alarms

Students iterate their medicine coolers to include an alarm that sounds when the temperature becomes too warm. This module uses BBC micro:bits.

  • 3 lessons
  • 45 min each

Our funders

Major support for this project has been provided by MathWorks.

MathWorks Logo
Medicine cooler icon

What’s Included?

  • Teacher Guide (PDF)
  • Teacher Slides (Google Slides)
  • Student Engineering Notebook (PDF or Google Slides)
  • Print Materials (PDF)
  • 2 Computer Science Modules