# Hands-On-PhysicsHEAT & TEMPERATURE

## - Incubator -

Figure C1
A model Incubator
• Background:
Babies born too early do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature. In the uterus, their mother keeps them just the right temperature, so a substitute is needed for premature babies. This substitute is an incubator, a chamber that will stay at body temperature, 37°C (98.6°F). Your project is to build an incubator in order to understand its physics. This will help you understand heat and how to control temperature.

• A Story:
Imagine you are a Peace Corps worker in a third-world country and have no library, no phone, and a very few supplies. The local doctor asks you to build an incubator for a premature baby. Think about how to build it on your own from common parts you have collected. The first thing you do is to decide on what makes a good incubator. You imagine that you were a consumer rating service and you had dozens of incubators to rate. You invent criteria that you can use to measure whether one was better than another. What does an incubator need to do? How could you tell how good yours is? You know that it is a good idea to start small and build a small working model of the real thing. You can use that to understand what is needed and then build a full-sized incubator later. You look around your apartment and see a thermostat. "Aha!" you exclaim. "That keeps the house at a constant temperature, so maybe I can make something like it to keep the incubator at a constant temperature. You look around for parts: a chamber and a heater. You find some cardboard that you can use to build a chamber and figure that an old auto tail lamp can be the heater. You might be able to make a thermostat from an old oven thermometer. You also find an old wall transformer that generates 12 volts that can be used for power. How can these be hooked together? How well will they work?

• Questions:
The main goal of this project is to build a working model of an incubator. Some general questions should be kept in mind, and several specific questions must be answered.

• Tools & Materials:
Corrugated cardboard is used for constructing the incubator chamber, and an oven thermometer is used to make a thermostat.

• Activities:
The core activity is the construction and testing of a model incubator. This construction has been separated into several activities, some of these activities can be done by individuals and others require the entire team.

• Reporting:
You have built and tested a model incubator. Look back at your criteria and decide how good an incubator you made. You can describe this incubator in words and explain it with diagrams. You have graphs which describe its performance. You can suggest improvements it needs. These items can form the basis for a good report on this project.

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