Measuring Temperature Activities

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Looking for ways to engage your students in learning the skills necessary to accurately measure temperature? This lesson contains several ideas for activities that will help student hone this skill in meaningful ways.

Measuring Temperature Precisely: A Skill, Not a Tool

Many students in today's classrooms scoff at the idea that measuring temperature is a skill that they must learn. With digital thermometers and immediate access to the current weather highly accessible to them at all hours of the day, they may find it difficult to believe that the skill of measuring temperature precisely is important to them. The activities that follow are designed to help students see that temperature fluctuates greatly in some situations and that accurate temperature measurements are difficult to take at times. At any rate, students will be engaged in the act of measuring temperature and will come away from the lesson with a newfound respect for the skill.

Measuring Temperature Over Time

A great introductory activity to measuring temperature is to have students either heat up a beaker of water or cool one down, measuring temperature throughout the process. If you decide to have students heat water up, make sure they have access to a constant heat source (e.g. a hot plate). If you are having them cool water down, give them plenty of ice to work with. In either situation, have them take a temperature reading every 30 or 60 seconds. Then, have them graph the temperature change over time and discuss the patterns they see. This will help students understand the rate at which water heats up or cools down, and may lead them to think about real-world applications of this phenomenon.

Hottest or Coolest Location Contest

To add an element of competition to your lesson, have students take a look around the classroom from where they are seated. Tell them they will pick two locations in the room; one location is where they think the highest temperature reading will be taken and the other is where they think the lowest temperature reading will be taken. Then, have students submit their guesses and write them on the board along with their names. Have each student select a location from the board to measure and report. Be sure to circulate around the room as they do this to help students hone their measuring skills (and to ensure they are being honest!). Once students have finished reporting the temperature of each location, declare the winners and discuss the results.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account