Magic Melting Ice Cubes

Simon Quinnell, from the National STEM Learning Centre and Network, shows how to carry out some ‘magic’ at the Christmas dinner table using ice cubes, a plastic chopping board and a frying pan.

When asked to feel the plastic and the metal, people usually describe the plastic as warmer to the touch. They are then surprised to see that an ice cube melts quickly on the metal surface but very slowly on the plastic.

Although this is counter intuitive, both surfaces are actually the same temperature, but the metal is such a good conductor that when touched it takes the heat energy away from your finger making it feel cold. The plastic is a good insulator and the ice cube barely melts as a result.

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This is perfect to get everyone thinking at the christmas table. Thank you Simon.