ITEEA The Elementary STEM Journal, Vol. 23, Issue 3
PublisherInternational Technology and Engineering Educators Association, Reston
ReleasedMarch 1, 2019
The Elementary STEM Journal, Volume 23, Issue 3 - March, 2019

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Books to Briefs: Ice Cream to Go!


Ice Cream To Go!

by Sharon A. Brusic

book.jpgBook Used: 
Lawrence, E. (2016). 
Heat: Fundamental Experiments 
New York, NY: Bearport Publishing. [24 pages; ISBN 978-1943553198] 
Book image courtesy of

Grade Level: Grade 2-3


book synopsis

Engaging in fun experiments about heat helps children to better understand this form of energy. This book is full of simple activities that encourage children to explore heat energy using everyday items. Each concept is presented with a probing question and easy-to-follow instructions to promote discovery and critical thinking, with encouragement to record observations in a notebook just like good scientists do.

lesson descriptionice-1601932-300-crop-med.jpg

Students work with their teacher to engage in a number of heat-energy experiments. Then children are introduced to a design challenge where they will need to put their understanding of heat energy to work to engineer the best solution to the problem.

lesson goal

The major goal for this lesson is to fully engage students in an integrative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) problem that will enable them to apply concepts and skills across all areas in a holistic way.  

student learning objectives

Students will be able to:

•     Make observations and ask questions about heat energy and how it is transferred.

•     Read and follow instructions from an informational text to carry out experiments.

•     Use the engineering design process to solve a stated problem within criteria and constraints that requires understanding of heat energy and material properties.

•     Create bar graphs that accurately illustrate data collected and analyze the data in order to make judgements about product performance.


standards addressed

Common Core Standards (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2018):

English Language Arts > Reading: Literature


o     By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the Grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.



o     Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013):

•     4-PS3-2

o     Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

•     2-PS1-1

o     Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.

•     K-2-ETS1-3

o     Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

Standards for Technological Literacy (ITEEA, 2007/2002/2000):

•     Standard 9:

o     Benchmark A: The engineering design process includes identifying a problem, looking for ideas, developing solutions, and sharing solutions with others (p. 100).

•     Standard 10:

o     Benchmark A: Asking questions and making observations helps a person to figure out how things work (p. 107).

o     Benchmark E: The process of experimentation, which is common in science, can also be used to solve technological problems (p. 108).


design briefice-cubes-1183100-300-crop.png

Student Introduction

You and your friends want to enjoy a dish of ice cream at the local park. You are worried that your ice cream will melt by the time you walk there since you don’t have an appropriate cooler to take along. How might you solve this “ice cream to go” problem using simple materials available in your home or school? 


Design and make an appropriate and creative ice cream dish or container that will keep your ice cream solid and cold for as long as possible. Ponder what you learned about heat energy as you solve this engineering problem.

Criteria and Constraints

Your solution must:

•     Be a unique design that you create, not something that is already available for this purpose.

•     Hold exactly one scoop of ice cream, sherbet, or frozen ice treat.

•     Be comfortable for a person to carry on a long walk.

•     Be an aesthetically pleasing model that someone would be proud to use.

In addition, you must document your problem-solving process and science understandings in a design journal.


•     Assorted and clean recyclables such as small containers (e.g., yogurt, applesauce), lids (e.g., jars, margarine), foam trays, packaging foam, cardboard tubes, disposable cups, fabric/felt scraps, plastic bags, etc.

•     Roll of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and wax paper

•     Assorted paper scraps for decorating or insulation

•     Foam sheets

•     Crayons and/or markers

•     Yarn

•     Cotton balls

•     Rubber bands (various sizes)

•     Craft sticks

•     Tape (masking, clear, and duct)

•     Ice cubes (for testing devices)

•     Liquid glue

•     Scissors

•     Notebook paper or spiral notebooks for all students (for design journals)

•     Experiment materials as listed in the Lawrence (2016) book


1.     Provide each child with blank notebook paper or a spiral notebook that can be used as a design journal. If students are not familiar with design journals, spend some time explaining your expectations about what goes in one and how to organize it.

2.     Read Lawrence’s (2016) book, Heat: Fundamental Experiments, with the class. Invite children to contribute to the reading aloud and answering questions that are posed. Consider having them first write their thoughts in their design journal and then discuss with a small group or the class. Have students try the experiments as a class or in small groups, if enough materials are available. You may want to do a few pages/experiments each day over a week.

3.     Present students with the design brief after completing all of the experiments. Explain that you want students to document their design process. Be sure that they know the engineering design process steps and expectations for sketching ideas and documenting their work.

4.     When solutions are complete, test each design by placing an ice cube in each one and recording how long it takes for it to melt. Alternatively, pour ½ cup of very cold water into each one and measure the temperature every 5-10 minutes. Record these data, have students create bar graphs of the results, and then have students compare and contrast the solutions. Pose questions such as: (1) How much longer did it take the X solution compared to the Y solution? (2) How much less effective was the X solution than the Y solution?

5.     Celebrate students’ solutions by scooping ice cream (or another frozen concoction) into each and walking to the local park or playground. Conduct a debriefing after finishing the treats to further analyze the solutions.

6.     As an extension, consider having students make their own ice cream or frozen treat for this activity. Look online to locate instructions to make ice cream in zip-top bags or coffee cans and use this opportunity to further explore heat energy and “ice cream science.”



Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2018). Common core state standards initiative. Retrieved from

International Technology Education Association (ITEA/ITEEA). (2007). Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology (3rd ed.). Reston, VA: Author.  

Lawrence, E. (2016). Heat: Fundamental experiments. New York, NY: Bearport Publishing.

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Achieve, Inc. on behalf of the twenty-six states and partners that MeasuringWaterTemp2-300-med.jpgcollaborated on the NGSS.


Sharon A. Brusic is a professor in the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She is also the coordinator for early childhood education students’ minor in integrative STEM education methods. She can be contacted at