Discover Primary Science and Maths

Measuring Temperature

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Temperature Task

The first sighting of the swallow or primrose in flower in spring is a significant event. When scientific measurements are taken the significance lies not in the single measurement but in its place as part of a set, or series, of measurements. Temperature measurements are like this. A single temperature measurement does not tell us much. A graph of temperature measurements taken at the same place, but over a period of time, however, can tell us a lot. It is very important that all these temperature measurements are taken in exactly the same way so that they can be compared fairly.

How To Measure Temperature

  • It is important to make sure that the temperature measurements are taken in the same place and at the same time every day.
  • The place should be in the shade (so that the sun does not heat the thermometer directly,) and a location where the wind can blow freely (not in a porch or a partially-covered shed, for example).
  • The time should be at noon every day (as well as comparing the temperatures in the same place from day to day, this helps to compare simultaneous measurements taken at different places, or in comparing the school measurements with nearby Met Éireann measurements).
  • It is also important that the measurements are not accidentally affected. For example, by holding the thermometer in warm hands. The thermometer will also need some time out in the air - about five minutes - for it to adjust properly to the actual outdoor temperature. Now read the thermometer and write down the temperature in degrees celsius on the wall chart provided with this brochure.

Other Things To Notice

  • What is the range of temperatures at your school - the difference between the highest and the lowest?
  • What was the biggest change from one day to the next?
  • Calculate the average temperature for each week/month. How much did it change through the spring?

If you record other weather details you could answer the following questions

  • Were the sunniest days always the warmest?
  • Were wet days colder than dry days?
  • Was there any connection between temperature and the direction / strength of the wind?