Teaching Science

Penguin House Activity

In this activity students construct simple devices to stop ice cubes melting when exposed to direct sunlight. To do so they need to apply their knowledge of energy transfer and albedo.

The backstory is simple: rising temperatures mean that in South Africa penguins are overheating when they sit on their eggs, and need to visit the nearby ocean to cool off. While they are gone gulls swoop in and eat eggs and chicks. Park rangers constructed simple ‘huts’ on the beach that provide shelter from the sunlight.

To simulate actual penguins this activity uses penguin-shaped ice cubes. Students must design and construct a small hut to shelter their penguin, provide a drawing explaining how to construct the hut, and explain how their design affects energy transfer (specifically absorption, reflection, radiation, convection, and conduction).

This PDF file contains a 2-page student handout, a 2-page teacher’s guide, and a marking rubric (referencing the Ontario curriculum and achievement levels).

Linked in the grade 10 climate page.