creative child in a laboratory

creative child in a laboratory

We do a lot of things in our daily lives that we don’t question. Some tea drinkers, for example, place a cozy over a teapot filled with hot beverages. A tea cozy is a tiny, fabric-covered cover. Consider it a teapot sweater that will keep the tea heated for a longer length of time. Can a single piece of cloth covering a boiling pot of tea make a difference? I was dubious. As a result, I devised an experiment. 

Devising an Experiment

Hot water does not stay hot for long. It cools down over time.  Heat is energy that flows through a system. The water warms up as it absorbs energy from another source. The energy from the stove causes the molecules in the water to move quicker, increasing the temperature of the water. When water is put into a teapot, part of its energy is transferred to the substance in the pot via conduction. As fast-moving atoms in the water bounce off the edges of the pot, they transfer part of their energy. This heats the teapot and slightly cools the tea. The teapot, in turn, will radiate part of its heat into the air. 

However, most cozies are made of yarn or cloth. They’re full of holes if they’re knitted or crocheted! Could they be so effective at insulating? This provided me with a hypothesis – a statement that I could put to the test in an experiment: The water in a teapot will stay hotter for longer with a cozy than without one, regardless of the teapot’s material. 

To test this, we should also examine a null hypothesis, which asserts that a tea cozy has no impact. If this were true, any impact observed would be attributable to human mistakes. The null hypothesis is that a teapot with a cozy will not hold water hotter longer than a pot without a cozy, regardless of the teapot’s material. Every experiment needs a null hypothesis.

Checking the Results

Not all teapots are created equal. They can be made of a variety of materials, including glass, iron, and certain ceramics. I gathered three similar-sized teapots: one made of metal, one of glass, and one of china. I wanted everything to be equal for the experiment. Then, for each pot, I crocheted a cozy. Crochet is a fabric-making technique that involves hooking yarn with a needle. (If you want to do this again, you could knit, sew, or quilt a cozy — or purchase one online.) 

I didn’t bother preparing tea for my experiment. All I needed was boiling water. I used an electric kettle, but a stove-top kettle or saucepan would also work. The water temperature in each teapot was then measured. I screwed on the lids and set the timer. I retook the water temperature 15 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, and two hours after boiling it. 

The teapots had not yet donned their cozies. This was only a precaution. I heated water and took temps once again. I performed this five times with just the teapots and five times with each teapot in its cozy.