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‘This Old House’ Inspired This Middle School Teacher’s Lesson Plan

Jourdan Marino, a science teacher in Massachusetts, is using our home insulation tutorials to teach his students about heat transfer

January 24, 2018

Last week we posted about a Snapchat filter that looked an awful lot like our beloved general contractor Tom Silva. In response to that, we heard from Massachusetts science teacher, Jourdan Marino, who recently taught his eighth-grade students about heat transfer in a lesson that culminated with a “This Old House Insulation Project." Marino tweeted (with a video of his class and himself sporting the Tom Silva Snapchat filter) when his students began the project.

@AskThisOldHouse. @ThisOldHouse @TomSilvaTOH @thisoldplumber

Any of you guys come visit & help @BurlMASchools In science Im teaching students about heat transfer so we're building a "This Old house" to insulate and test outside! Swing by for a visit We love you guys!!! pic.twitter.com/Aosk5KQNp0

— Mr. Marino (@MrMarinoScience) January 18, 2018

Shown above: Mr. Marino invites Tom Silva to his classroom with the unofficial Tom Silva Snapchat filter turned on.

Students were asked to insulate a shoebox “house” to retain as much heat as possible during a chilly 40 minutes outside in Burlington, Massachusetts. Marino has been teaching science for eight years, and originally did the project when he was a sixth grader at the same middle school. “I can remember how hard my father and I worked on it at his shop,” Marino told us in an email. He brought the project back when he started teaching and made it a part of his curriculum.

Courtesy of Jourdan Marino

Shown: Shoebox houses are lined up for testing outside in the courtyard.

As the “This Old House Insulation Project” grew in popularity, Marino added various stipulations to challenge his students and encourage their creativity. The shoebox must be a true “house,” with at least three windows and a functioning door and walls no thicker than 5cm. Students can’t just create a “nest” of materials, Marino said, and can’t add any batteries or hand warmers to produce heat. The roof has to be removable so that he can add in a thermometer during the final test.

Courtesy of Jourdan Marino
Courtesy of Jourdan Marino
Courtesy of Jourdan Marino
Courtesy of Jourdan Marino

Shown: Students begin construction on their insulated shoeboxes.

Students insulated their shoeboxes in class with the This Old House theme song playing in the background, and once construction was completed in the next class period, the testing began. Marino set the classroom temperature to 75 degrees Fahrenheit as the base starting temperature for everyone, placed a thermometer in each house, and then had the students sit the houses outside for 40 minutes. When the time was up, he read the final temperature to see which houses had the best insulation.

Courtesy of Jourdan Marino
Courtesy of Jourdan Marino

Shown: Shoebox “houses” sit outside for 40 minutes to see how much heat they each retain.

The students who made the best houses in each class got to take their projects home for the weekend to make tweaks for a final round held this week. The other students got busy, according to Mr. Marino, “converting their ‘This Old House’ into a radiant cooker, where we will use heat lamps to try to cook marshmallows and hotdogs!”

We wish all of the students the best of luck in the final round of the 'This Old House' Insulation Project.