Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Fulcrum Institute Development Team

Thought Experiment - Warm Soda (~1.5 hrs.)


Remember the Thought Experiment you did in Session 1 about the Warm Soda? What do you think now? Carefully do the this one more time. (Don't look back at your Session 1 response yet!)

Document your changing ideas

Once you have posted your Thought Experiment, look back at what you wrote in Session 1 and compare it to your new response. In your journal, note how your thinking has evolved.

Write a 1 page letter to your facilitator based on your comparison of your 2 Warm Soda thought experiments. Explain what you understand now that you didn’t understand at the beginning of this course and how your thinking is more nuanced.

You'll email a copy of the letter to your facilitator by Session 13.


The Scenario

It’s a hot, still summer day. You’re having a party and soon the guests will arrive. Your friend brings over 24 cans of soda, but they’re warm and now you have four choices to cool the soda cans:

  1. Put them in the refrigerator
  2. Put them in a cooler with ice
  3. Put them in a cooler with water at 0°C
  4. Put them in a cooler with ice and pour room temperature water over the ice

Spend 30 minutes taking notes about the temperature change and heat transfer that you think will occur in each case.

  • Sketch graphs showing temperature change over thirty minutes at two locations: in a can of soda, and in the environment (i.e. the air inside the refrigerator in case 1, the ice in case 2, the water in cases 3 and 4). Printable graph paper is provided.
  • Draw a diagram, showing where and by what process(es) heat transfer is occurring in the system.
  • Imagine you could zoom in on the system until it is magnified a billion times and you "see" the materials at a particle scale. In each case, as heat is transferred from the warm soda to its surroundings, what changes occur?

Use your notes to write a report. Describe the heat flow and temperature change that occur in each case. Give as much detail as possible to explain the process using both a macroscopic and a particle model. Out of the four cases you explained, which is the fastest way to cool the soda cans? Explain your choice.


ost your Thought Experiment report in the Warm Soda Forum by Thursday. If you'd like to post diagrams in Word or PowerPoint, please type your name on them and attach them, but include the main text of your Thought Experiment in the body of the post.