Questions for ‘Could reusable ‘jelly ice’ cubes replace regular ice?’

a purple gloved hand holds a jelly ice cube

University of California, Davis researchers say these innovative new cooling cubes are anti-microbial and could reduce food storage cross-contamination.

Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

To accompany Could reusable ‘jelly ice’ cubes replace regular ice?’  


Before Reading:

  1. Imagine it’s a hot day, and you want to add ice to your cold drink. But the only available ice is in a cooler left over from an earlier sporting event. A sports team used it to store snacks and drinks. You open the cooler to see ice floating in meltwater. How likely would you be to scoop some of this ice and add it to your drink? What concerns might someone have about consuming this ice?
  2. When making Jell-O, how does the consistency change after being chilled? (If you’re unsure, do a quick internet search for instant Jell-O recipes or videos.) A Jell-O recipe calls for lots of water. After the Jell-O is chilled, what might have happened to all that water? Did it go away, or do you think it’s still there?  

During Reading:

  1. What does the term “hydrogel” mean? Other than the “jelly ice,” what is another, more common, example of a hydrogel?
  2. What can you do with jelly ice cubes that you can’t do with Jell-O?
  3. List three advantages of jelly ice cubes over regular ice cubes.
  4. According to the study, which hydrogel showed the best balance of cooling and strength?
  5. Why does this new jelly ice interest not only researchers but also medical and food companies?
  6. Michael Hickner points out that one possible reason some people not want the new gelatin to make contact with their foods or drinks. What is it?
  7. How can the freezing process damage cells?
  8. What does Luxin Wang mean by the term “circular economy”?

After Reading:

  1. Researchers can shape the jelly-ice hydrogel into shapes specialized for specific tasks. As a class, discuss some applications for a cooling gel like this and brainstorm ideas for different gel shapes that may prove helpful. Then, on your own, pick one idea and design a new use for that hydrogel. Draw your invention. Be sure to show the shape that the hydrogel would need to take. Identify one way this invention could help people.
  2. Imagine a student reads this article and makes the following statement: “Since the jelly ice cubes don’t melt like regular ice, they will keep things cold forever!” What is incorrect about this conclusion?