Temperature Lesson Plan

Instructor: Joanne Abramson

Joanne has taught middle school and high school science for more than ten years and has a master's degree in education.

This lesson plan introduces high school students to the relationship between temperature and kinetic energy. Students observe a demonstration, watch a video lesson, and then participate in a lab activity.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define the term ''temperature''
  • explain how temperature and kinetic energy are related
  • describe how we measure temperature


1-1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • NGSS HS-PS3-2

Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative positions of particles (objects).


Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

Key Terms

  • temperature
  • kinetic energy
  • thermometer
  • degrees
  • thermal expansion


  • Erlenmeyer flask, 1
  • Hard-boiled egg with shell removed, 1
  • Match book, 1
  • Strip of paper, 1
  • Thermometer, 1 per group
  • Hot plate, 1 per group
  • Large Pyrex beaker with water, 1 per group
  • Small soda-lime glass test tube, 1 per group
  • Small Pyrex test tube, 1 per group
  • Test tube stopper with capillary tube to fit test tubes, 2 per group
  • Test tube clamp, 1 per group
  • Test tube rack, 1 per group
  • Food coloring bottle, 1 per group
  • Heatproof gloves, 1 per group
  • Metric ruler, 1 per group
  • Paper towels
  • Lab books or worksheets
  • Pencils



  • Set up student lab stations around the room. Each station should include the following:
    • 1 hot plate
    • 1 set of heat resistant gloves
    • 1 large Pyrex beaker with water
    • 1 small soda-lime glass test tube
    • 1 small Pyrex test tube
    • 2 test tube stoppers with capillary tube
    • 1 test tube clamp
    • 1 test tube rack
    • 1 bottle of food coloring
    • 1 metric ruler
    • paper towels
  • Prepare for the demonstration by setting out the Erlenmeyer flask, hard-boiled egg with shell removed, matches, and a strip of paper.


  • Begin the lesson by placing the hard-boiled into the mouth of the Erlenmeyer flask, demonstrating that it does not fit through the opening.
  • Remove the egg and ask students to watch closely as you light the strip of paper with a match and drop it into the flask. Place the egg back into the mouth of the flask. (When the paper goes out, the air pressure outside of the flask will be greater than inside, and the egg will be pushed into the flask.)
  • Ask students to provide you with possible explanations for why this happened. Do not provide students with the correct answer yet, simply write their responses on the board.
  • Explain to students that they will return to the demonstration after they watch a short video.

Video Lesson

  • Begin the lesson What is Temperature? - Definition & Measurement. Pause at 0:44. Ask the following discussion questions:
    • What is 'temperature?'
    • What is 'kinetic energy?'
  • Return to the video, this time pausing at 2:33. Ask students the following questions:
    • All matter is made of atoms or molecules that have kinetic energy. Why do these particles have kinetic energy?
    • How is kinetic energy related to temperature?
  • Continue the video. Pause at 4:54. Ask the following questions:
    • What is a 'thermometer?'
    • How do thermometers work?
    • What are some different types of thermometers?
    • What term do we use to indicate temperature?
    • What are the three temperature scales commonly used today?
  • Return to the video and pause at 7:45. Ask the following discussion questions:
    • Describe the motion of molecules in a solid.
    • What happens to this motion when the temperature of the solid increases?
    • Why does throwing a rock not increase its temperature?
  • Continue the video and watch it to the end.
  • Check for understanding by projecting and completing the lesson quiz together.
  • Return to the demonstration and see if students can figure out what happened based on what they just learned.

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