How surface area to volume ratio effects the rate of heat exchange

Carly Raetz, Cesar A Sanchez, Alex Perry, Michael Cobbs


Bergmann’s rule goes about the theory that animals in different environments tend to be large in size in colder climates compared to animals of the same species in warmer environments (Mayr 1963, as cited in McNab 1971). From this it can be hypothesized that animals with a smaller surface area to volume ratio are larger in size and can be found in colder climates. In order to test this theory we have selected clay sphere of different surface area to volume ratios and subjected them to both cold and hot water and measured their change in internal temperature. The data collected in this experiment supported our hypothesis because there is an overall trend in the hot water that the small sphere gains the most heat and the large sphere gains the least heat. The same pattern can be seen in the cold water, the small sphere loses the most heat and the large sphere retains the most heat.

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