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Deep thinking time – Why are these objects made from particular materials?

What are the following items made from and why?

If you have the resources at home, you could do the following investigation. If you do not try some of the activities further down the page.


Fair –test investigation – Which material is best at keeping the tea warm?

Resources needed:

  • A range of fabrics or materials
  • hot water (no hotter than 60 degrees centigrade)
  • beakers, cups or mugs
  • a thermometer
  • a timer


You have seen the video about how thermal insulators work and now I would like you to think about how to best insulate a cup of tea (you can just test out your ideas with hot water.)  Please test a range of different materials to wrap each container in. Can you keep your investigation fair? Can you predict which material will be the best thermal insulator? Finally, can you think of a way to record your test including your results?


I would love to see what you come up with so please feel free to email me your investigation findings.

Problem-solve – How do you keep the tea the warmest for the longest amount of time?


Using all of your knowledge of thermal insulation, think about the things you could do to your container in order to try and keep it warm longer.


What ideas have you tried?

Previous results

What is material A, B and C?

Email your ideas to me. Don't forget to explain your answer.


You could act out being the heat inside a cup of tea and show me how the heat would travel out of the cup. If you have anyone else at home, who isn't too busy, they could get involved too. They could be the thermal insulator making it harder to get out of the container. If you choose to do this, why not record it and send it in. Try to use scientific language as you explain what you are acting out. The term ‘thermal conductor’ and ‘thermal insulator’ will be useful!