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Glenn EDC – Keep it Cool

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.


Using the engineering design process, students will design, test, and improve systems to maintain cold temperatures within a simulated cryogenic propellant tank. They will test their design against a control to see how well their insulators worked, then make improvements on their design to determine which are most effective at preventing ice melt in their simulated cryogenic tank.

Introduction Video

Coming soon

Challenge Content

Facilitation Guide and Student Journal coming soon


Each student team will need:
  • Two one-cup metal measuring cups with handles
  • Large bowl
  • Hand towel
  • 25-milliliter graduated cylinder
  • Slide-top one-quart bags
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels
  • Insulating materials which must include at least
    • Foam sheets
    • Felt
    • Cardboard
    • Cloth
    • Construction paper
    • Aluminum foil
  • Attachment materials which may include
    • Rubber bands
    • Tape
    • Binder clips
  • Ice cubes
  • Warm water
  • Container or sink for used ice and water
  • Two-ounce plastic condiment cups (optional)

Next Generation Science Standards Addressed

Engineering Design

  • MS–ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS–ETS1–2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS–ETS1–3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • MS–ETS1–4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved. 

Matter and Energy

  • MS-PS3-4 Energy: Plan an investigation to determine the relationship among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.  
  • MS-PS3-3 Energy: Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer. 
  • MS-PS1-4 Matter and its Interactions: Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.

Related NASA Content

Online Resources

Informational Videos

  • Done in 60 seconds: See a Massive Rocket Fuel Tank Built in A Minute – Watch a time-lapse video showing the construction and rotation of the liquid hydrogen tank for the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.
  • Space Launch System Liquid Hydrogen Tank Test – Watch as a test version of the Space Launch System’s liquid hydrogen tank is tested to failure.
  • Smoke & Fire! NASA Tests the World’s Most Powerful Rocket – Watch as NASA’s Space Launch System core stage fires all four of its engines in a final Green Run test.
  • Faces of Technology – Meet Monica Guzik – Meet a Gas and Fluid Systems Engineer who works on cryogenics at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

Contact Information

Gerald Voltz
Education Program Specialist
(216) 433-8817

Glenn Research Center – Office of STEM Engagement

Phone: (216) 433-6656

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