This activity blends a hands-on investigation with a computer simulation, as students use probeware to observe and graph the changing temperature of a melting ice cube. In the first step, learners use a sensor to monitor temperature as an ice cube melts in a bowl of room temperature water. Next, temperature is monitored as a second ice cube is placed in a solution of salt water mixed at the concentration of seawater. In which substance will the ice melt faster? A digital graph interface allows easy plotting of Temperature vs. Time, which can be accessed via free software from the developer or run directly in a browser with newer probeware products. The activity concludes with a simulation of the molecular structure of a hot liquid and a cold solid. By clicking “Withdraw the Barrier”, learners watch a gauge that shows changes in average kinetic energy of the particles as they interact when mixed.
Note: This activity requires temperature sensing probeware, which has become relatively inexpensive ($20-30 per probe). Some probeware runs through an app that can be opened directly in a browser -- meaning that software doesn’t have to be installed by your IT department. For help selecting the best probeware for your needs, see this link:
Concord Consortium - Probeware Connection Options
For an Instructor’s Guide with answer keys and teaching tips, click here: Teacher's Guide