Museum of Science and Industry

Get the Porridge Just Right

Step 1 of 5:

Here's the Materials You'll Need:

Three identical bowls
Instant oatmeal packets
Measuring cup
Heated water
Masking tape
Chart (PDF)

Step 2 of 5:

Pour half a packet of oatmeal into a bowl. Use the pen and tape to label this Bowl #1. Pour a full packet of oatmeal into another bowl. Use the pen and tape to label it as Bowl #2. Pour 1½ packets of oatmeal into the last bowl. Use the pen and tape to label it as Bowl #3.

Step 3 of 5:

Add half a cup of heated water into each bowl. Stir the water and oatmeal together 15 times. Do this for each bowl.

Step 4 of 5:

Take an initial temperature of each bowl. Write your findings on the chart. Wait 5 minutes and take the temperature of each bowl again. Write your findings on the chart. Repeat two more times, until you have taken each bowl’s temperature four times.

Step 5 of 5:

Temperature is the measure of thermal energy, or the movement of molecules that make up an object. It describes how fast the atoms and molecules that make up the object are moving.

Temperature is related to mass because objects with more mass change temperature more slowly than objects with less mass. The oatmeal in each bowl has a different mass. The oatmeal with the most mass (Bowl #3, with 1½ packets) has to lose the most heat for its temperature to fall. It takes more time for the object with more mass to cool than the same object with less mass.

Imagine both a glass of water and the ocean are the same temperature. It would take a lot more heat loss – and a lot more time – for the ocean to cool by 1 degree than it would take for the glass of water to cool by 1 degree.

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