ACS: Inquiry in Action - Investigating the Weather (Lesson 1.5): Keeping Warm in the Cold

Students make an insulating “coat” for a cup of warm water to investigate the question: How does a coat keep you warm in the winter?


Students will be able to explain that wearing a coat helps keep you warm because it blocks your body’s heat from moving away from you to where it’s cold.

Key Concepts

  • The coat isn’t actually warm – it’s your body that’s warm.
  • The coat keeps your body’s heat from moving away from you to where the temperature is colder.
  • A thick coat is better than a thin light jacket at keeping your body’s heat close to you.

NGSS Alignment

  • K-ESS2-1: Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time. 
    The activities focus on how wearing a coat helps keep us warm in cold weather.


  • Discuss whether a thick or thin jacket helps students stay warmer in cold weather.
  • Students see a demonstration in which a container with warm water in is placed in cold water. The warm water cools down quickly.
  • Students then design and test a “coat” for the container to keep the water warm longer.
  • Students watch an animation explaining why a coat helps keep them warm in the cold.


There is no formal student activity sheet or assessment for this lesson. To evaluate student understanding, use your usual methods of interacting with students, asking questions, and discussing ideas with students as they participate in the different parts of the lesson.

Science Topics
Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry, Heat
K-6, Educator
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Lesson Plan (PDF) | Teacher Background (PDF) | Connections to NGSS (PDF)

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ACS (American Chemical Society)

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