Education Technology

NASA - Newton's Cool in the Pool

Published on 12/14/2011

Activity Overview

To prepare for spacewalks, astronauts train at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL). NASA also uses the NBL to develop flight procedures and verify hardware compatibility -- all of which are necessary to achieve mission success. In this problem, students are presented with a power outage, in which the pool's heater stopped working. They are to predict the temperature change in the NBL pool due to a power failure and determine how long it will take for the water in the pool to reach ambient temperature.


Students will

  • analyze temperature-loss data graphically;
  • use Newton's Law of Cooling to predict temperature loss;
  • solve the Newton’s Law of Cooling formula for the exponential constant of cooling (k); and
  • determine the time required for tank temperature to equalize with room temperature.