Earth Science Week Classroom Activities

Using Energy Resources Wisely

American Association of PetroleumGeologists

Activity Source:

American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Adapted with permission.

People depend on their energy resources, so they need to know how to use them wisely. How do you think people can use the energy they rely on to heat their homes more efficiently?


  • Plastic cup, foam cup, and metal soup can, all around the same size
  • Plastic wrap and sheets of paper
  • Masking tape
  • Supply of warm water
  • 3 alcohol thermometers
  • Measuring cup
  • Calculator and notebook
  • Graph paper
  • Watch or clock


  1. Predict which item - plastic cup, metal soup can, or foam cup - will keep water warm the longest. Record your prediction in your notebook, as well as a reason for your prediction.
  2. Around the plastic cup, wrap 6 sheets of paper as tightly as you can, and secure them with masking tape. Do exactly the same with the can and the foam cup.
  3. Use the measuring cup to fill all containers with the same amount of warm water. Place a thermometer in each container.
  4. Measure and record the temperature of the water in each container. Wrap each container with plastic wrap as well as you can, while leaving the thermometer in place. Leave the containers to stand side by side.
  5. Discuss: What do you think will happen over time? Why? Make a prediction, based on what you know about heat. Include the reason for your prediction.
  6. Measure the temperature in each container every minute over a 15-minute period. Record this information. When you finish, graph your results.
  7. Discuss: Does your evidence support your prediction and the reason you gave for it? What does this tell you about conserving heat energy? How can this be applied to heating your home more efficiently?