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This project is designed to support the STEAM HEAT unit. It provides a STEAM learning project in the context of an architectural design and engineering challenge

Students learn:

Curriculum Learning Activities
SCIENCE Real world, evidence based sustainable engineering design & measurement
TECHNOLOGY using technology in design and evaluation of built environments
ART Quality of supporting multimedia & aesthetic choices affecting 'liveability
ENGINEERING Investigate and compare properties and suitability of materials
MATHEMATICS Methods of quantification and evaluation using authentic data


Students work individually to:

Build a simple experimental model of a single room, human dwelling using a two litre milk bottle as a basic structural framework.

Students perform a simple experiment to measure the thermal efficiency of their house by taking temperature measurements over time after an ice block is placed inside their experimental dwelling and allowed to melt.

Following completion of their individual project, students join a team with the intention of building an improved model which will be assessed for the following:

  1. Hypothesis, planning, documentation with data collection and analysis (using scientific method)
  2. Use of technology to investigate and compare materials and to store/analyse data.
  3. Engineering design efficiency and demonstrate a process of improvement based on prototyping.
  4. Artistic merit based on 'liveability' and aesthetics - to be assessed on the basis of public on-line survey results, and supporting multimedia documentation.
  5. Environmental sustainability: Achieving an optimum balance between thermal efficiency, carbon footprint and liveability.

Students work in groups to:

  1. Design a thermally efficient, sustainable and liveable (good quality of life enjoyed by residents) dwelling, using only specified materials
  2. Construct a model dwelling using cardboard squares (walls etc.) and transparent cling wrap (windows/sky-lights), using dimensions specified in work-sheets.
  3. To evaluate thermal efficiency, the teacher will place an ice-cube in a designated location inside each model dwelling.
  4. Each group must record the same group of environmental changes over time (e.g. temperature per minute) in a spreadsheet
  5. Results must be charted and compared.
  6. Students must discuss the variables and decide which building(s) and strategies were 'best'
  7. Each student must provide a written summary and use data to support their written opinions.
  8. Students should be encouraged to express their ideas about how to make buildings more sustainable.

Waternet construction - build method example

Figure 1. This example intended to inspire creative use of 'trash' materials (below)


Groups are required to refine or re-design their model dwelling and to document their reasons and their methods for achieving those improvements.

Video / Multimedia Evidence:

Each group must produce a video record of their project (see framework below)

Data collection, References & Attribution

  1. Students must maintain a data sheet and support their opinions with reference to the data they have collected - including data from supplementary on-line survey
  2. All measurements must be taken using the methods specified below


There are opportunities for inter-group and inter-class collaboration and competition.

Throughout the project, groups will measure the qualities of their own experimental dwelling against those of other groups - both in their own class and other classes participating in the project(s).

Parent / Third party Assistance

Each student is required to submit an individual project that is the result of their own classwork only.

Parental and/or third party involvement is welcome in the group project.

To be accepted for final assessment, each group project must include a simple written statement of the proportion of work completed by student(s) versus third parties.


Each group must build a single room, model dwelling using a two litre milk bottle.

All models must have the equivalent of a single internal area of two litres volume, and from which the nominated six measurements can be obtained in the described manner.

The milk basic bottle materials can be cut away and/or re-configured in any way, but the overall volume enclosed by the 2 litre bottle must be retained as a single room (not sub-divided into additional 'rooms'). Additional rooms/features may be added using only designated materials. Any such 'improvements' will be ignored for purposes of thermal measuremet but may cout in favour or against the overall score, which includes sustainability, carbon footprint etc.

INJURY WARNING: Most plastic milk bottle sides are soft enough to be very easily cut with scissors BUT a 'starting hole' needs to be punched/cut into each face first, to allow the blade of the scissors to move around and cut the main panels.

The 'starting hole' may best be made in advance by a parent/teacher rather than be done by the student(s).

NOTE: Some other types of plastic bottles are more difficult to cut with scissors (the plastic tends to crack or shatter more easily).

For example, it would be acceptable to cut away all six plastic sides, leaving only a thin skeletal outline, and re-clad the sides/floor/ceiling with cardboard or any other specified materials. Students are free to add openings such as windows, doors and skylights.

So long as only prescribed materials are used, students are free to be inventive in their design/building. Any innovation in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art and/or mathematics will be taken into account by judges.

To qualify, each project must include rigorous and true measurements taken and retained throughout the life of the project (using the values specified in the nominated format).

Figure 2. Example construction method using a two litre milk bottle

The centre of each side panel was cut away using scissors to leand a 'skeleton'. Some colourful cardboard sections were taped over the skeleton to form walls and a roof.

The black dots were stuck onto the inside and outside surfaces. An ice block will be placed on the centre of the floor and an infrared thermometer will be used to measure the temperature of each black dot every five minutes. The results will be recorded in a spreadsheet.

Prescribed Building Materials

  1. EXCLUDED: In general, any product designed for specific use as building/insulation material.
  1. FAVOURED: Judges will favour the use of recycled materials
  2. Plastic/PET bottles and similar thin-walled plastic not exceeding 1mm thickness
  3. Card, cardboard, plastic or foam sheeting not exceeding 5mm thickness
  4. Aluminium foil (aluminium cooking grade foil only)
  5. Glad-wrap or similar flexible, transparent 'window' materials
  6. Masking tape, cellotape or other glue (approved in advance by your teacher)

Prescribed Test Method

  1. A black adhesive dot is pre-fixed as close as possible to the centre of each internal surface (floor, 4 walls and ceiling). Only a prescribed black dot may be used. This will require six dots for each model. Temperature measurements are taken using infrared sensors focused on the black dots
  2. Each trial uses a single ice cube/block that has been place inside an approved container (to prevent water spillage). The ice cube plus container is placed centrally within the 2 litre container.

Infrared Thermometer - User Manual:

Getting Started

Start by writing brief notes in your log book, using the following headings (1 - 10 below)

Before starting your experiment, fill in your video story-board (ask your teacher for a story-board template), with notes explaining what content you will include for each section and how you will shoot the content for that section (including close-ups, distance shots and so on).

Decide what the role will be for each member of your group and for each part of your story-board content before you start creating your movie.

Think about the kind of 'feeling' or 'artistic effect' that you would like your movie to have (should you have a music background or include an interview, or insert images etc)?. Should the music/interview/images be serious, funny.. or have no background music at all?

Maybe you could simply design an artistic image to use at the start/end of your movie, or make a poster to promote your movie?


Describe what your experiment will be a about. Keep it short and simple:

For example:

Our experiment investigates the best way to keep a house cool while making sure that it is pleasant to live in and environmentally friendly.


Write down your hypothesis - a short description of what you are predicting (guessing) will, or will not, happen:

For example:

  1. Building a house from metal sheeting is the best way to stay cool.
  2. Building a house from paper is the best way to stay cool and be environmentally friendly.


Provide a link or reference to similar experiments or research that relates to your experiment - including any Internet or text-book references:

For example:

This question was part of the on-line Science Quiz Additional information was supplied here


Describe what you did do, or plan to do, in your experiment in a way that is simple enough for someone else to repeat:

For example:

  1. We built our first house from cardboard (see photo below).
  2. We found that we had to take the roof roof off to measure the temperature.
  3. We added a door to the dwelling so that we could take the temperature without removing the roof.
  4. We changed the design of the door to help stop heat getting in when we took measurements.
  5. We viewed the results of the on-line survey and chose to add a small window and let more light inside.

The plan and design for our house is shown in our movie and in our labelled diagram (below)


Describe which things/values that you will change and what you will measure (and record in your log book)

For example:

  1. In the first part of our experiment, we had to remove the roof to take measurements.
  2. In the second part, we will use exactly the same setup but add a door.


Write down all values (table of temperatures) that were taken from the specified measurement points in your experiment:

Temperatures recorded by 'Typhoon Turtles' group

Time New Ice Classroom Temp. Inside Floor Inside wall Outer wall In ceiling Out roof
09:00 08.59 19.00 19.1 19.0 19.2 19.1 19.3
09:15 - 20.3 16.3 16.4 18.5 17.0 19.0
09:20 - 21.8 14.5 15.1 17.2 16.1 19.8
09:25 - 22.0 16.1 15.9 18.9 17.1 20.5
09:30 - 22.2 19.3 17.5 20.9 18.9 21.5
  • The 'New ice' column shows time that new ice-block was placed inside the model house.
  • Temperature measurements are taken using infrared sensors focused ONLY on the black dots.
  • Temperature should be taken each 5-10 minutes over a 15-30 minute period.
  • The values must be entered into an on-line spreadsheet or hand-written log book

In summary, we are looking for the house where the ice block takes the longest time to melt that has been built using the most environmentally friendly materials and most liveable design.

To save time and reduce the number of measurements, find a way to answer this question:

HINT1: For each house, how long does the ice take to melt?

HINT2: Dan Meyer - TED Video - Maths Classroom Needs A Makeover


In your log book, create a simple, clear, labelled diagram for the setup that you use for each experiment, and not any changes made to setup since last experiment.

We took measurements of the 'black spot stickers ' attached to the floor and walls of our model. We added a door to our model for this experiment as marked on our plan (also see photo)


Include a screen-grab of the wiki page and/or the quiz page that you mentioned in your EVIDENCE section (above)

For Example:

Figure: Comparing how quickly temperature changes with/without a door

At the end of your movie include photographs of your diagrams, any results or graphs that you created in your log book. Include these photographs at the end of your movie (only if they relate directly to your experiment or have been mentioned in your experiment)


Think about each of the following points.

Write some notes based on the following - your summary MUST include:

  1. A brief summary of the results (NOT your opinion about what the results mean), based on what you discovered as a result of your experiment.
  2. Compare your findings with your hypothesis - did the findings agree or disagree with what you had expected.
  3. Based on your hypothesis and the results, what was the most interesting thing that you discovered by performing this experiment (or, even if you thought the experiment was a total waste of time, then say why!)
  4. Anything that you or others should/would do differently if you repeated this or a similar experiment

10 APPENDIX (and optional BLOOPERS)

At the very end of your movie, create a section titled 'APPENDIX“

It should be obvious to your movie viewers that the stuff in appendix is separate from the main part of your movie (the first 9 subject headings above)

The Appendix should include all of your photographs, pictures of story-board, log book, diagrams and finally, any extra entertaining out-takes and/or bloopers.

HINT: If anyone goes out of frame during a part that you want to include, then simply insert an image or illustration for the period that they are out of frame (leave the voice track running) and then cut back to the live action when they return into frame.

Time Series Forecasting

It is possible to use Google Sheets to provide simple forecasts - using existing time-based data to predict the value of unknown, new data: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1opF9SxYBF2Hpkjlkjtjz8SDYNSeoJu0ni_e-zXNON80/edit#gid=0

You can use the

=FORECAST(value, data_Y, data_X) formula
  • value is the unknown value for which you want to predict the corresponding forecast
  • data_Y is the series of data points for which you want to predict the future value
  • data_X is the series of corresponding data points which form the basis of the forecast

Egain Forecasting

Egain (time and temperature measurements) can be used to help save energy and reduce global warming: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egain_forecasting

Egain forecasting is a method of controlling building heating by calculating demand for heating energy that should be supplied to the building in each time unit. By combining physics of structures with meteorology, properties of the building, weather conditions including outdoor temperature, wind power and direction, as well as solar radiation can be taken into account. In the case of conventional heating control, only current outdoor temperature is considered

Statistical Analysis Tools

brainbox/young-engineers/architecture/home.txt · Last modified: 21/12/2016/ 15:57 by