Activity

Measuring temperature

Summary
Students use a thermometer to measure various temperatures e.g. air in the classroom, their finger, a cup of iced and/or warm water, outside air.
Science content
Chemistry: States of Matter, Properties of Materials (K-7)
Earth/Space: Weather, Seasons, Climate Change (K, 1, 4, 7)
Lessons activity is in
Materials
  • thermometer, for each/pair of students - adapted if necessary by taping over numbers and adding new ones to make it easy to read.
  • coffee cup/styrofoam cup/metal cans
  • water of different temperatures - use kettle to make warm water fast
  • ice
  • optional: salt, 2 tablespoons per can
Procedure

Temperature tells us how hot or cold it is.
Use a thermometer to measure temperature.

Optional: show chart of Vancouver temperature going up and down with the seasons.

You will each use a thermometer to measure temperatures.
Show the bulb that measures the temperature, which must be surrounded by the thing you want to measure the temperature of.

Start by measuring air temperature in the classroom, to check students are able to read the thermometers correctly.
Optional: write up/graph results and discuss why they are slightly different - air temperature varies slightly around the classroom; my thermometer are not the best, so are not calibrated so accurately.

Then do other temperature measurements:

The temperature of their finger, by placing their finger over the bulb of the thermometer. The bulb can be cooled again by blowing on it. This is useful for seeing the temperature rise, then fall, rapidly.

The temperature of hot and iced water (in insulated cups if it is very hot/cold):
Optional: add salt to iced water to make it even colder (can be combined with the frost activity and use a metal can).

The outside air temperature (may be with another outside activity).

Optional: talk about digital thermometers, that look different from these ones, that are in weather stations and other equipment.

Notes

This activity is easily extended to measuring water temperature in its different states, then graphing the readings. See www.ingridscience.ca/node/13

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Teaching site
Gordon Elementary
McBride Elementary
Tyee Elementary