Engineering design challenge: Ice cube cooler

Engineers and geoscientists play an important part in protecting the public, including designing life-saving medical equipment. While we might use coolers to keep our water cold at a soccer game, they have lots of applications, including keeping medicine safe as it’s delivered to remote villages. Doctors without Borders use specially designed coolers to keep their vaccines at the right temperature until they can be given to patients.


Create a cooler that will keep an ice cube inside frozen longer than one outside of the cooler. This will demonstrate if the cooler is able to keep items cold.


Instruct participants to use objects they can find around the house to create their cooler (some examples are below).

We recommend that participants watch to see how long the ice cube outside of the cooler takes to melt, and when it’s melted, open up their cooler and see how big their ice cube still is. 

Example materials

Instruct participants to use these or any other materials they find around their house to work with:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Styrofoam
  • Cardboard
  • Wax Paper
  • Newspaper
  • Tape
  • Recycling