Mount Kenya in central Africa is so high that every day is summer, and every night is winter. The animals and plants must adapt to the brutal conditions in order to survive.

At night, the Giant Groundsel plant tucks its leaves closely together as if wrapping up in a blanket to prevent itself from freezing. Geladas live in these volatile mountains. Their long fur keeps them warm at night whilst they hide in caves, and as the sun rises every morning they climb to the top of the mountain to play.

Each night the water on Mount Kenya freezes, creating a Crystal Kingdom. Yet in the day streams and rivers are vibrant with energy.


What this unit will give you

Knowledge to guide your students to complete this project

  • In this project,students will investigate the properties of materails and create a composite material that could be used
    to insulate and protect the equipment of the Enchanted Kingdom fild crew on Mount Kenya or in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia

What this project will give your students

Learning Objectives

To develop an understanding of materials that insulate against hot and cold temperatures.
Develop an understanding of the forces exerted on a falling object.
Draw simple conclusions, make predictions for new values, suggest improvements and raise further questions.

Project Aim/Question
To design, build and evaluate a rugged kit bag that could be used by the Enchanted Kingdom Film Crew.
Key Language
Gravity, air resistance, potential energy, insulate.




Stage 1 - Unpacking the Problem

The high mountains of tropical Africa are a unique environment.The Enchanted Kingdom crew filmed on Mount Kenya, which is about 17,000 feet high (5199m) and right on the equator.

At night things change dramatically. Whatever the weather during the day, the skies often clear at night. With clear skies at such a high altitude, temperatures plummet as low as minus 10°C. Frost forms and everything begins to freeze solid. Shallow streams freeze over. Larger ones keep flowing but the splashes and dripping water create many icicles and coat the bankside vegetation with a layer of ice.


What you can do

  • Discuss with your stiudents the difficulties relating to filming at various altitudes in the mountains, as well as what could cause damage to equipment (e.g. heat, cold, fall damage)
  • Form students into groups to compete with each other to design and make a durable equipment case
  • Give groups the opportunity to evaluate a range of equipment cases (laptop cases, mobile phone cases, etc.), looking at their suitability and what could be changed to adapt them for mountain use.
  • Ask groups to come up with a range of realistic experiments to test cases (this will help them decide what material to use for their case). Ideas might include:
    1. Insulating a cold & hot substance to maintain an even equipment temperature
    2. Drop test
    3. Water spillage test

Living With Hazards: Simien Cliff Farmers
Getabit is a small village in the Simien Mountains. It is the autumn harvest and the local people are harvesting crops of barley. The villagers rely on a good harvest of barley to store through the winter, when the ground becomes too frozen to grow anything. But the harvest is threatened by Gelada baboons who also live in these mountains, the baboons love to eat the barley.


Groups can use OneNote to research and collaborate.

Stage 2 - Design and Build Phase
Stage 3 - The Test

What you can do
With your students remaining in their groups, have them test their designs. The tests can be based on equipment that you have access to - tests could include:

  • Keeping ice cubes cold
  • Keeping water as close to boiling point as possible
  • Dropping a house brick on the case. The case could contain a fairly fragile object, such as a DVD case
  • Dropping the bag from a height

Once testing is finished, groups should be given the opportunity to evaluate their design. This process should be added to the Office Mix journal created during stage 2.


One finished, Office mixes can be published to OneDrive for feedback.

Enrichment Activities

What you can do - Numeracy
There are opportunities to read measurements and collect quantitative data from each equipment bag test. Students can produce graphs and charts to present their findings.


What you can do
Great opportunity to explore various stages of the Water Cycle: Evaporation, condensation and reversible changes of state.


Support for less able students should take the form of shared planning with another teacher or member of support staff.

Ensure that students have ample rehearsal time to build their confidence. Students who struggle significantly with confidence could present using a partially pre-prepared Office Mix.

In order to challenge more able students, be prepared to take a step back and allow groups to take ideas and ‘run with them’. They should also be encouraged to present in an unscripted way, challenging them to gain and monitor the attention of their audience, interacting with – and questioning – them.