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Investigating Heat Loss in Model Animals

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Biology Coursework : Investigating Heat Loss in Model Animals PLANNING Intentions This experiment is being conducted to investigate the relationship between insulation (e.g. an animal's fat and fur), and (body) temperature using water, test tubes and foam insulation. Variables There are various variables that need to be taken into account during the experiment: Water volume; External factors, e.g. room temperature, wind strength. Type of insulation; Number of layers of insulation; Different test tube sizes, e.g. Width; Height; Glass thickness; (all affect surface area or insulation). Scientific Background We know that in the natural world, body temperature is a very important factor in the ability to survive. This is demonstrated throughout the world in a variety of different climates. For example, to survive the severe cold, animals in the Arctic generally have more body fat and thicker, longer fur than those of a hotter climate such as Africa. This is a demonstration of Bergman's Rule, which states that animals tend to be larger in colder regions for reasons of thermoregulation. The larger an animal is, the greater its volume, thus the lower its surface area to volume ratio and hence the lower its heat loss. The two factors that most affect an animal's body heat retention or loss are its volume to surface area ratio as mentioned above(the ratio of the volume of the animal compared to its surface area), and the amount of insulation it carries around with it. This insulation is in the form of fat, feathers or fur (e.g. hairs in humans). The extra bulk greatly reduces heat loss and can make the difference between survival and extinction. ...read more.


The independent variable will be the amount of insulation. This will be 1.0mm thick insulation which will cover the whole test tube and wrapped around in layers; it will increase in increments of two layers. The dependent variable is the temperature of the water as it cools which will be measured accurately with a thermometer every five minutes. The control in the experiment will be test tube A which has no insulation (though it still has a cotton wool bung). Prediction I predict that the more insulated the test tubes are, the longer it will take for the water inside them to reach room temperature, e.g. the rate of heat loss to slow down as more insulation is added. This will show that more insulation results in less heat loss. OBTAINING RESULTS Table of Results: 1st Experiment TIME TEMPERATURE (�C) (minutes) A B C D E 0 55 54 54 55 54 5 47 47 49 50 49 10 36 40 43 47 45 15 30 38 40 43 42 20 27 34 38 39 40 25 25 31 34 37 38 30 24 29 32 34 35 35 23 27 30 31 32 40 22 25 28 29 30 45 21 23 27 28 29 50 20.5 22 25 27 28 55 20 21.5 24.5 25 27 60 20 21.5 24 25 26.5 65 20 21 23.5 24 26 70 19.5 21 23 23 25.5 75 19 20 22 23 24.5 80 19 20 21.5 22 24 85 19 19.5 21 21 23.5 90 19 19.5 20 21 23 95 19 19 20 21 22 100 19 19 19.5 20.5 22 105 19 19 19.5 20.5 21 110 19 19 19 20 21 115 19 19 ...read more.


There were other factors that may have affected the accuracy of the experiment. These problems include the time it took to fill the test tubes, during which the water cooled rapidly. Also, the time it took to check the temperature of each test tube made the times slightly inexact. Some heat was also lost when the temperatures were checked because of insertion and removal of the thermometer (though the bungs remained in place). These problems could be overcome by finding a way to fill all the test tubes at the same time, and by having a separate thermometer for each test tube through a rubber bung, preventing heat loss. There are several ways in which this investigation could be furthered. One way is by extending the parameters of this experiment, for example by beginning with the water at a higher temperature, or by taking readings more often, such as every two minutes instead of every five minutes. To further investigate the theory that insulation thickness is not directly proportional to the rate of heat loss, test tubes with even more layers of insulation could be added to the experiment. Another way to continue this investigation would be to involve surface area and volume in an experiment thus relating to how heat loss changes in animals of different sizes. This could be done by looking at heat loss from a larger volume of water in a similar shaped container, for instance a boiling tube instead of a test tube, using the same layers of insulation. My experiment provided accurate and reliable results to support my conclusion, giving a clearer picture of how animals use insulation to survive the climatic variations of the natural world, whether desert or ice cap. 1 ...read more.

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