Build on students' interest in The Magic School Bus with science lesson plans and activities that encourage hands-on learning.
Field Trip Notes
When Arnold discovers that his cocoa is cold, he demands to know where the hot went. In response, Ms. Frizzle whisks the class to the Arctic. What's the freezing Arctic got to do with heat? While the kids try to find out, the bus's engine freezes and the bus floats away on an ice floe with Ralphie and Phoebe inside! As the bus moves away, so does the heat from everyone's bodies. How can Ms. Frizzle's kids insulate their bodies to keep the heat in? Can they rescue Ralphie and Phoebe before they all become the Ice Cube Kids?
The Inspiration of Insulation
Time: 30 minutes
Group Size: 2-4
The Magic School Bus kids are freezing! When they discover that heat flows from hotter to colder things, they find ways to block heat escape routes. Your kids explore how insulation works to keep in body heat.
What You Need
- Copies of The Inspiration of Insulation page
- Sandwich-size zipper plastic bags, 4 per group
- Cotton balls, 12-15 per group
- Solid shortening, 1 cup per group
- Spatula or spoon
- Glass jars, 1 per group
- Water and ice in a large bowl
Set Up and Prepare
- For each group, tightly seal some ice and water in one zipper bag. Put the shortening in a second bag.
Talk About It
Ask: How do layers of clothes, fur coats, and fat keep humans and animals warm when it’s cold outside? Discuss how fat and trapped air in fur or clothing layers block the flow of body heat into the cold.
What To Do
In two demonstrations, kids will explore how air and fat can slow the flow of body heat into ice water.
- In the Polar Bear Blanket test, cotton fibers trap body-heated air, much like polar bear fur. Pass out the materials and help your students follow the activity directions on the Inspiration of Insulation page.
- Ask your students, How do polar bears keep warm in the Arctic?
- Explain that air spaces in polar bears' fur trap body-heated air.
- Ask your students, How are the cotton balls like polar bear fur?
- The Walrus Mitt seals a hand inside a layer of fat to imitate walrus blubber. Pass out the materials and help your students follow the activity directions on the Inspiration of Insulation page. Show them how to zip the shortening and empty bags together to make the mitt.
- Ask your students, How do walruses keep warm in icy cold water?
- Explain that the walruses' blubber slows the movement of body heat.
Challenge your students to insulate jars of warm water so that they keep the heat in the jar as long as possible. Dip a finger in each of the jars after an hour. Which stayed the warmest? Why?