Education Technology

NASA - Newton's Cool in the Pool

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.