Return to Physics Index
Jackie Baker Crown Community Academy
2128 South St. Louis
Chicago IL 60623
Students in grades kindergarten through second will learn that the skin is not
always a reliable sensor of temperature.
Students will learn how to read a thermometer.
Students will practice using a thermometer to determine a specific temperature.
Students will observe that dark colors absorb heat faster than light colors.
hot, warm, and cold water in three separate bowls
thermometers (one per child or one for every group of two children)
styrofoam cups (one for each group of two)
colored construction paper
Put a piece of tape over the numbers of each thermometer.
Put a color of construction paper on the inside and outside of each styrofoam
Prepare a graph illustrating the colors used across the bottom and the
temperatures in fahrenheit along the side.
1. Set out the three bowls of hot, warm, and cold water and invite one child to
tell you which one is hot, warm, or cold. When the child has accomplished this,
ask the class what the student used to tell the temperature of the water. When
they acknowledge that the child used her hands, ask them if they think our sense
of touch is a good way of telling the temperature of something? Tell them that
we are going to find out.
2. Have each child put one hand in the hot water and one in the cold water.
Have them hold it there for a few seconds. Next, have them put both hands
quickly in the luke warm water. Ask them to concentrate on what each hand
feels and be prepared to describe what they have felt after everyone has had a
turn. After each child has had a turn, discuss what the water felt like to both
hands. The children should have noticed that the warm water felt cold to the
hand that was in the hot water and felt warm to the hand that was in the ice
cold water. Discuss the differences and ask if they still think that skin is a
good sensor of temperature.
3. Ask if there are any other ways to reliably measure the temperature?
Discuss each idea and then tell the children that you have a thermometer. Give
each child a thermometer with the numbers covered. Allow every child to put
their thermometer into the hot water and the cold water; marking a line on the
tape where the red indicator stops. Discuss what happened to the thermometer
when it was placed in the two different temperatures of water. Have the
children take off the tape on the Fahrenheit side and discuss what they see.
Have them read the number across from their mark and compare their answers.
Their answers should be relatively close. Discuss why a thermometer is a more
reliable sensor of temperature than our sense of touch.
4. Tell the children that they are going to get a chance to actually measure
the temperature of water when it is placed in the sun. Have the children get
into groups of two. They will need one thermometer, a styrofoam cup, and some
water in their cup. Make sure that all thermometers start at the same
temperature by placing them in a cup of water with ice. Have the children put
their styrofoam cups filled with water outside in the sun and place their
thermometers in the water. Leave the cups outside for 30 minutes. When the
children bring their equipment back inside, have them take a final reading and
put their results on the class graph according to their specific color. Discuss
the graph. Which color had the highest temperature? Which color had the lowest
temperature? Ask the children if they can explain what happened. (Black or
dark colors absorb the light energy of the sun and it is changed to heat. Light
colors act as reflectors and bounce light off.)
The students will color in a given thermometer to show 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, they will write and illustrate what color clothing they would wear to
school on a very hot, sunny day.
Primarily Physics Grades K-3, AIMS Activities