During inquiry this term we have been investigating the science behind hot and cold. We have investigated what causes heat, how heat and products that create heat help us in our everyday lives, and have also been engaged in several experiments relating to this.

For this STEM Challenge, you are going to have to use the knowledge you have developed to complete the task that has been set for you. This is outlined below!

The Challenge: To build a model house using cardboard and to then use various materials to insulate that house to ensure the heat inside stays inside, and does not escape.

Time Frame: Each group will have 6 weeks (6 hours) to complete all tasks outlined below.

Groups: Students will work together in groups of no more than 4 students and no less than 2. Note: there is a lot to accomplish in this project therefore select your group members wisely and make sure you communicate who is responsible for what.

What is the purpose of the project/challenge: How do we use a model to learn the movement of heat (thermal) energy in a residential home?

The following components need to be completed, submitted and presented. How your group decides to present your project is up to you. It be may done for example in one of the following ways;

Research Questions: The following questions must be answered by each group and presented as part of your your STEM challenge project.

  • What is an Insulator?
  • What materials are good insulators?
  • What makes these materials good insulators?
  • Why do homes need good insulation?
  • Why is having good insulation important for the environment?
  • In thinking of your own (real) home, where do you think the most heat loss in your house is?
  • List 3 ways that heat energy could be conserved in your home?

Model Sketch. You must sketch what your model house will look like using the guidelines given to you below. (Make sure you include the proper number of doors and windows in your sketch). You must include 1 door, at least two windows and a pointed roof.

  • A Side View - Left
  • A Side View - Right
  • A Front View
  • A Back View
  • A Birds Eye View

Model House. Your group must build a model of your house with windows (minimum of 3) and doors (minimum of 2) included as outlined in your sketch. Your group must follow the guidelines below when building your model. Note: Your model needs to be constructed using multiple panels (walls, roof) of cardboard. You cannot simply obtain a box and call it your house. :)

You model needs to be built from the following materials ONLY;

  • cardboard,
  • paper
  • sticky tape
  • glue (hot glue guns, glue sticks)
  • icy-pole sticks.
  • plastic film (Glad Wrap, etc...) - for window coverings

You must insulate the inside of your house where your group identifies possible heat (thermal) energy loss. What you choose to insulate your house is up to your group.

Your model must be approximately 30cm x 30cm x 30cm.

Hypothesis. Prior to beginning testing and data collection, each member of your group is required to answer the following two questions.

  • Where do you think the most heat loss is going to come from (door/window, roof, wall cracks, other) your model?
  • Do you think there will still be heat loss after you renovate your model?

Data Set 1. Once your model has been constructed, your group must collect the following data (information). Note: We will be using a heat lamp inside your house, which will sit for 2 minutes, to generate warmth/heat in your model.

  • Photos of your house, including a ‘thermal’ image taking in the ‘Photo Booth’ application on your iPad. See right. This will show you where your heat (thermal) energy is escaping. You may take multiple photos to determine where your energy loss is.
  • Temperature readings of how hot your house is;
  • immediately after the heat lamp is removed.
  • 5, 10, 15 minutes after the heat lamp is removed.

All data collected is to be kept and presented in a table such as the one below;

Model Renovations. After your group sees the thermal images and heat loss of your model, you are to review your model and its construction to see where improvements can be made to save heat energy.

Data Set 2. Once your group has made its alterations and renovations, you will collect your second Data Set. This will involve new photos being taken highlighting the changes/upgrades that you made to your model as well as a new set of ‘thermal’ images taken via the ‘Photo Booth’ application on your iPad.

Observations. Once you have collected your second set of data, each member of the group is to review the findings and differences and write a paragraph outlining what each persons observations were. Think about;

  • What happened with model?
  • What does your data and observations tell you?
  • Was your hypothesis proven or rejected?
  • What did you learn from this challenge?
  • After doing this experiment do you have any new questions that you would like to explore?

Presentation. Each group will give a 3-5 minute presentation sharing all information relating to their project as outlined above. You will share what challenges and successes your group had and why.

An iMovie Presentation, a shared Google Slide, A Keynote Presentation, A Poster.


Linked below you will find resources to assist you in constructing your house but also insulating it.


Teachers will be assessing you using a rubric which is shown and linked below. Use this as a guide to help your group achieve success with this task!


This is a challenge task. It will not be simple nor will it be easy. You and your group will need to, cooperate, collaborate, critically think, and communicate if you are to complete what you need to and complete it well.

Created By
Corrie Barclay


Created with images by skyseeker - "Sun." • Wokandapix - "thanks word letters scrabble"

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