What insulator will keep ice lasting the longest?

1. paper bag
2. plastic container
3.  aluminum container
4. styrofoam
Did you say the styrofoam?
That is correct. 
 In my experiment after completing three trials the ice in the styrofoam lasted longer all three times after sitting for 90 minutes in each insulator.
My reason for choosing this topic was to find out which house hold insulator will keep ice lasting the longest and whichever insulator keeps ice lasting the longest will prove that ice does not melt at the same time in every type of insulator.
This investigation is important because insulators are used everyday for many different reasons.  For example, styrofoam is polystrene, which is a foam made of thermal insulation that traps air in order to keep ice from melting faster and to keep food and drinks cold or hot.   The plastic is polymer.  Polymers can be thermal and electrical insulators.  For example, pots and pans handles are made of polymers, so are insulated cups, coolers, and microwave cookware.  Remember that styrofoam is a trademarked name of the Dow chemical company for its brand of polystrene foam.  It works by reducing a process known as heat transfer.  Whenever two objects of different temperatures come into contact with each other, heat will transfer from the warmer object to the colder object until both are the same temperature.  This explains why a cold drink left outside will eventually warm up to room temperature.  The heat of the surrounding environment transfers to the cold drink raising its temperature.
Aluminum is used to make kitchen pots and pans because of its high heat conductivity and since aluminum is a metal that makes it a good conductor of heat.  Whereas, in my experiment the ice in the aluminum container melted completely because it absorbed heat from the surroundings and conducted it into the ice making it melt.   Aluminums most common use is packaging including drinks cans, foil wrapping, bottle tops and foil containers.  All of these relies on aluminum to protect from changes in the local environment outside the packaging.
Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspaper and other paper sources.  It is used to insulate homes and buildings and reduces the amount of energy required to heat and cool buildings.
Using styrofoam in my experiment showed that styrofoam is an example of a good thermal insulator for keeping foods and drinks cold.  Therefore, insulators have been around for a long time for keeping important perishables, like food to keep fresh in transit.  Technology in different insulators is large in research and an important industry.
Here’s what my results of what the ice looked like after sitting 90 minutes in each insulator: 
1.                                                    insulator-results-0042
Here’s how the ice looked after 90 minutes in the paper bag. It melted leaving a small piece of ice.
Here’s what the ice looked like in the plastic container.  Melted but leaving a small piece of ice.
The aluminum container the ice melted completely.
Last, the ice in the styrofoam container is basically the same size as I started out with.
Look at the ice cubes that I took out of the freezer conpared to what happened in each insulator.  Look below!
In the first trial the room temperature was 65 degrees.  The last two trials the room temperature was both 60 degrees.
Here’s the temperature of each trial after taking the temperature of each insulator remaining piece of ice or water after 90 minutes of sitting.
Insulators used:


1st trial after 90 min/34 degrees

2nd trial after 90 min/32 degrees

3rd trial after 90 min/33 degrees

Plastic container

after 90 min/50 degrees

after 90 min/40 degrees

after 90 min/43 degrees

Paper Bag

after 90 min/45 degrees

after 90 min/40 degrees

after 90 min/40 degrees

Aluminum container

after 90 min/60 degrees

after 90 min/60 degrees

after 90 min/55 degrees


In trial 1 the room temperature was 65 degrees. Whereas there was an increase in the temperatures of each insulator that caused the ice to melt more.    In the 2nd and 3rd trial the room temperature was 60 degrees.

According to the room temperature being 60 degrees especially in the 3rd trial the temperatures decreased more in the plastic container,paper bag, and the aluminum foil container but increased by 1 degree in the Styrofoam container as compared to the first trial.

Here’s the graph of the temperatures taken after 90 minutes.













After completing three trials, my hypothesis was that the ice would last longer in the styrofoam container. The plastic container came in second place leaving a small piece of  ice and water. Next was the paper bag, again leaving a smaller piece of ice than inside the plastic container. Last place was the aluminum container, the ice had melted completely.

My research says that polystyrene is what styrofoam is. It traps air which makes styrofoam coolers a very popular cooler to purchase.

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