Thermal House

Challenge Problem

Design and construct a thermal house that holds solar heat most effectively.


  1. Construct a thermal house from a three-fold display board using the pattern provided and the picture shown.
  2. Observe a cooldown experiment conducted on an uninsulated thermal house (this provides a set of data to compare your insulated house to).
  3. Insulate your Solar House by lining the walls with recycled materials that you select.
  4. Conduct the cooldown experiment on the insulated thermal house.
  5. Record data in a table and graph all runs.
  6. Calculate the half-life for the cooldown. If you are using the table, enter a guess in the half-life cell and then adjust the half-life and ambient temperature entries until the half-life curve is as close a match as possible to your data.
  7. Repeat the experiment if desired.
  8. Change the insulation as desired and retest with the goal of having the longest half-life for cooldown.


People: This is a challenge for teams of up to two students.

Information: Facts and knowledge the individuals possess or obtain and instruction from the teacher.


Tools and Machines: Students will use appropriate tools and equipment available in the technology laboratory, including a snap-blade knife, scissors, and a metal ruler or straight edge.

Time: 8 class periods

Energy: 100w light bulb


The isulation system should be able to reduce the rate of heat leaving your house by conduction, convection, and radiation. The best house has the longest half-life for cooldown.


Last updated on 9 May 2011by P. A. Wiedorn