FREE ✨Smarticles!✨

Connect with ✨Your Smarticles✨ to get our latest content by email.

Powered by ConvertKit

Oh, That's HOT!!

Exploring Thermal Energy and MS-PS3-3

Have you discovered Thermochromic pigment?  It was new to me.  Basically, its a VERY DUSTY pigment that can be added to a variety of substances and it will respond to heat!  When I discovered this 'stuff' I knew for certain how much my students would enjoy an opportunity to tinker and explore with it, so I created a little Experimental Design lesson that meets NGSS standard MS-PS3-3 AND is a LOT of fun!!!!

Matching the Standard to the Task

When is comes to Design Challenges, the NGSS standards are pretty specific, students are always required to "design, construct and test".  With this particular standard, it boils down to:

and for awhile I was like 😩.  But then came thermochromic pigment and a stroke of inspiration! 

Creating Thermochromic Paint

If you aren't familiar with thermochromic pigment, essentially it change color (chrom) when heat (therm) is applied. 

So it took me QUITE a few trials to get the pigment to do what I wanted.  At first I blended this pigment with yellow paint and I got a light green result that faded to yellow.  Not so bad.  It wasn't until I purchased acrylic VARNISH that I was able to get the result of a dark color fading to reveal the word HOT underneath!!  Then I knew I was on to something awesome!!  

Our Task

For this task, students will be asked to use experimental design to create and test a Thermal Energy cup sleeve that indicates when a cup of cocoa is too warm to drink!

The Process

The process is based on the NGSS experimental design procedures which are EXPERTLY described by Paul Anderson.   I've created some great printables that can serve as a scaffold to the process if you're ready to get started with experimental design process.  You can get them here:

For this project, here's what the students were asked to do:

Essentially, the students need to create a sleeve for a 12 or 16 oz cup that contains a thermochromic sensor that will indicate whether or not the contents of the cup are hot by taking advantage of thermal energy transfer.  Much of the process involves experimenting with the design and materials for the sleeve, deciding how to create a sensor to reveal whether or not the contents are hot.  Attempting to maximize thermal energy transfer buy using different materials (aluminum foil, copper pennies, etc.) to get the thermochromic paint to respond more rapidly and of course, students are encouraged to create a visually appealing sleeve...

Save your lip when you take a sip!!


The students collected data as they went through the process in order to have evidence to support their claim at the end of the task.

As the students went through the process, they really NAILED it!  They:

  • Identified the problem, constraints and criteria
  • Brainstormed possible solutions
  • Diagramed ideas
  • Created solutions
  • Tested their solutions and collected data
  • Iterated
We finalized the process by writing our results in a CER:

And of course we finalized the project with a little hot cocoa party.

This is truly one HOT project, 

Merge Cube Snow Globe

My FAVORITE new project for the winter season is this FUN SNOW GLOBE POETRY project featuring Merge Cube and CoSpaces.

Here's How I Did It!

Check out this video for details:

Need a template?  Click here!

Need a video tutorial?  Click here

As Always, thanks for:

CoSpaces and Merge Cube

A really exciting thing happened recently in the world of MergeCube......CoSpaces just added integration with MergeCube.  Now if I'm speaking Greek to you at the moment, I may need to back up and provide you with a little bit of background, so read on and catch up to speed on these two AMAZING EdTech Tools.  For my other EdTech friends who are already familiar with Merge Cube and CoSpaces, just scroll down to What Can I Do?

What is MergeCube?

Integrating AR/VR principles, a Merge Cube is a small foam device that allows you to hold a hologram IN YOUR HAND!! The Merge Cube is basically a Augmented Reality trigger. Each side of the cube has a distinct pattern which is recognized by the Merge Cube suite of apps including CoSpaces! For MORE on the MergeCube visit:

What is CoSpaces?

CoSpaces Edu is an intuitive educational technology enabling students and teachers to easily build their own 3D creations, animate them with code and explore them in Virtual or Augmented Reality.  This tool provides the user with a 3D 'space' that can be modified by adding 360 images as well as 3D elements to create virtual worlds!  CoSpaces recently partnered with Merge Cube to also allow custom CoSpaces creations to be viewed on the Merge Cube.

What Can I Do?

MergeCube/CoSpaces Book Review Project
While I haven't explored ALL of the possibilities, I did do a little dabbling in the new MergeCube/CoSpaces section and came up with a project that I'm VERY excited about!  Here's a video preview:

The idea is that with CoSpaces, you can upload images and position them to appear on each side of the Merge Cube.  My goal with this project is to bring book reviews into the 21st Century.  Essentially students edit a set of Google slides based upon a novel that they’ve read. They then log-in to a CoSpaces account and upload images of the slides and move/position them into place on the Merge Cube. Students can also add a 3D model of a character (or characters) that fit their novel and VOILA you have a student generated book review viewable in 3D on a MergeCube!! 

Take a look at the YouTube Tutorial Here:

MergeCube/Breakout Challenge
Another option is to customize cubes to feature Breakout puzzles or problems to solve in a more interactive way.  With this one I used a set of Google Slides to make a problem 'path' for students to follow.  When all of the problems were solved, they had a 5 digit code which can be used to unlock a lock or a Google Form.  Fun with or without a Breakout Challenge!

To create either of these projects, you’ll need a CoSpaces Pro account and the CoSpaces app on a tablet or phone.   (I managed to obtain a free one month CoSpaces Pro Trial) . To inquire about a CoSpaces account, click here.  You'll also need a Merge Cube!  Here is a little more on the Merge Cube.

Get YOUR Merge Cube here:

Of course you'll also need to be