Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Comparing Surface Area to Volume Ratios with Cooling Rates

Ty Smith, Carlie McArthur, Charlie Rogers, Ryan Sherman


We have noticed based on previous experiments that larger animals with a smaller SA/V stay warmer in cold enviorments as compared to smaller animals with a larger SA/V. After observing this data we hypothesized that animals in cooler climates have a smaller surface area to volume ratio (SA/V) than animals in warmer climates that have a larger SA/V, because with a smaller SA/V, it is easier to maintain thermoregulation and retain heat, as opposed to a larger SA/V  where it is easier to lose heat faster. To test this we used clay cubes of different sizes and put them into a bucket of ice and recorded there temperatures over a 15 minute time interval, measuring every 30 seconds. Our results supported our hypothesis because the larger clay with the smallest SA/V had the slowest cooling rate.

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