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Fahrenheit vs Celsius

Grade Level: Grade 3-5
Estimated Time for Completing Activity: 1 50-minute class period
Learning Outcomes:
  • read and learn the use of unfamiliar words using knowledge of root words and prefixes.
  • work with a small group of classmates to make a meteorological tool.
  • use effective communication skills in group activities.
  • present a brief oral report.
  • convert Fahrenheit temperature into Celsius temperature.
  • convert Celsius temperature into Fahrenheit temperature.
National Standards:
  • Standard A: Science as Inquiry
  • Standard D: Earth and Space Science
  • Standard E: Science and Technology
  • Standard G: History and Nature of Science
Virginia Standards of Learning:
  • Science 3.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 4.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 5.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 4.6 : The student will investigate and understand how weather conditions and phenomena occur and can be predicted.
  • English 3.1 : The student will use effective communication skills in group activities.
  • English 3.2 : The student will present brief oral reports using visual media.
  • English 3.9 : The student will write for a variety of purposes.
  • English 4.1 : The student will use effective oral communication skills in a variety of settings.
  • English 4.2 : The student will make and listen to oral presentations and reports.
  • English 4.3 : The student will learn how media messages are constructed and for what purposes.
  • English 4.7 : The student will write cohesively for a variety of purposes.
  • English 5.1 : The student will listen, draw conclusions, and share responses in subject-related group learning activities.
  • English 5.2 : The student will use effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills to deliver planned oral presentations.
  • English 5.3 : The student will learn how media messages are constructed and for what purposes.
  • English 5.4 : The student will expand vocabulary when reading.
  • English 5.8 : The student will edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraphing.
  • Math 3.13 : The student will read temperature to the nearest degree from a Celsius thermometer and a Fahrenheit thermometer. Real thermometers and physical models of thermometers will be used.
  • Math 3.17 : The student will a) collect and organize data, using observations, measurements, surveys, or experiments; b) construct a line plot, a picture graph, or a bar graph to represent the data; and c) read and interpret the data represented in line plots, bar graphs, and picture graphs and write a sentence analyzing the data.
  • Math 4.4 : The student will a) estimate sums, differences, products, and quotients of whole numbers; b) add, subtract, and multiply whole numbers; c) divide whole numbers, finding quotients with and without remainders; and d) solve single-step and multistep addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems with whole numbers.
  • Math 4.14 : The student will collect, organize, display, and interpret data from a variety of graphs.
  • Math 5.15 : The student, given a problem situation, will collect, organize, and interpret data in a variety of forms, using stem-and-leaf plots and line graphs.
  • General knowledge of the terms "heat" and "temperature"
  • Ability to read marks on a measuring tool.
  • Ability to use literary resources and/or Internet, and write a complete paragraph
Materials: Students will be divided into groups of four. Each group will need:
  • directions for constructing a thermometer
  • water
  • food coloring
  • a soft drink bottle (glass)
  • a clear plastic straw
  • modeling clay
  • marking pen
  • a pan of warm water
  • calculator
  • pencil and paper
  • a glass thermometer
Lesson Links:
  • Knowing TWO ways of telling temperature is like knowing TWO languages. It can be very convenient.
  • Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit invented the first 'accurate' thermometer more than 200 years ago. The Fahrenheit scale is named after him. We us the symbol (F) for Fahrenheit.
  • In 1742 Anders Celsius designed the Celsius (or centigrade) scale. We use the symbol (C) for Celsius.
  • People in the United States mostly use the Fahrenheit scale. Scientists and people from other countries usually prefer the Celsius scale."
  • See the first part of the Procedure for additional information.
  1. Today we are going to work in groups and make an instrument that meteorologists use to measure temperature.

    • Meteor comes from a word that means "something happening in the sky." A meteorologist studies the atmosphere, weather, and climate of our Earth.
    • The root word "meter" means a way to measure. A thermometer is a weather instrument that measures temperature. The prefix "fore" means before.
    • A meteorologist uses tools to collect data and study the weather and is able to forecast the weather before the weather happens. Discuss the importance of this through class interaction and discussion. Temperature is one factor that meteorologists use to forecast the weather.

  3. Before students are grouped explain that each group will have 30 minutes to:

    • read directions
    • assemble a thermometer (Thermometer Direction Sheet)
    • write a paragraph describing how to make a simple thermometer: Use the formulas below to convert the following temperatures
       (1) 10 degrees Celsius
      (2) 50 degrees Fahrenheit

      Formula: Convert Fahrenheit to Celsius

      1. Subtract 32 degrees from the Fahrenheit temperature.
      2. Multiply by 5.
      3. Divide by 9.

      Formula: Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit

      1. Multiply the Celsius temperature by 9.
      2. Divide by 5
      3. Add 32

      The scientific formulas are
            C = (F - 32) / 1.8
            F = (C*1.8) + 32

      (depending on the level of the group)

    • Using the student-made thermometer, measure and record daily outside temperature readings. Use the data recorded for a week to make bar graphs and stem and leaf plots.
Extensions: Construct graphs of data collected over an extended period of time for comparison of seasonal temperature changes.
Teacher Notes:
  • Depending on how familiar students are with using a thermometer, the lesson may require more than one class period.  The teacher should perhaps allow one period for the assembly of the thermometer and writing paragraphs, and one day for oral reports.  The optional Extension suggests recording temperatures for 5 class periods.
  • The lesson is intended for supporting the S'COOL cloud observation Report Form (optional measurement of temperature, etc.)
Assessment: Evaluation Tool: Rubic:

80 points = A
70 points = B
60 points = C
50 points = D

10 points: the group will work quietly and cooperatively
10 points: all calculations are accurate
10 points: thermometer assembled correctly following all directions
10 points: calculations done on paper 10 points: calculations checked using calculator
10 points: paragraph punctuated
10 points: spelling correct in paragraph
10 points: topic sentence and four to five supporting sentences

Reference: Lesson Plan submitted by Carol Mitchell, Poquoson Elementary School, Poquoson, Virginia, USA, for NASA's S'COOL Project.

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