A few weeks ago I shared about an Alexander Day I had where everything seemed to go wrong…especially a particular science activity. Even though this activity was generally a flop, it was not because it’s not a good activity! It was a flop because I didn’t think through one important detail: styrofoam cups + pointed temperature sensors = big mess! I found this fun activity online here, and I adapted it for my measurement packet:
- temperature sensors–meat thermometers work great. I bought a set on amazon, unfortunately they are no longer available. I bet you could just ask your friends and family to borrow theirs :)
- Plastic Cups–Again, do NOT use Styrofoam cups for this activity! You will have a very soggy mess. (I just thought of it, but it would be cool to get red and blue Solo cups to put the hot and cold water in!)
- Warm and Cold Water
Here’s what we did:
1. Give the kids a cup of hot water and cold water. (remember plastic cups!!)
2. Their task is to mix the hot and cold water until it feels the same as room temperature.
3. After they think they have gotten their water to room temperature, they will use temperature sensors to measure the temperature of the water and air and note the difference. Teacher Tip: In general if the room is cool, their water will be cooler than the air, if the room is warm the water will be warmer than the air.
4. Now they will do the same activity using the temperature sensor to get the water temp to match the air temp.
5. After they have gotten the water to within 1 degree of room temperature, they will feel the water and note whether it feels warmer, colder or the same as the room temperature.
6. When everyone has finished, discuss why it is important that scientists use measurement tools and not just their senses to take measurements.
*Click here to find the rest of the measurement activities!
Temperature is a pretty basic form of measurement, we hear about it on a daily basis on the news and weather is a pretty normal subject of conversation. So you would think that kids would have no trouble “getting it”. But there are tricky parts of measuring temperature. For example reading what I’ll call a “red line” thermometer (because I can’t find out what it is actually called) can be really tricky for 4th graders! Also, increasing and decreasing temperatures especially when you are dealing with negative temperatures is very confusing!
When I was at The Dollar Tree a few weeks ago they had garden thermometers, so I bought one to put outside our building. Now the kids read the thermometer every time they come in the door. “Miss, it’s ___ degrees outside!” is blurted multiple times per day…but they have become very proficient at reading that pesky red line!
So one of the first pages in our Measurement Packet is our Temperature Log:
We also have been graphing the AM and PM temperatures and seeing the differences:
So that is our introduction to temperature! Up next? Temperatures Around the World!
**Click here to see all my measurement activities
So this begins a series of posts about MEASUREMENT….begin!
We remember the types of measurement with this simple mnemonic device: TLVCDT…yeah, NO! There is no simple way to learn and remember the types of measurement: Temperature, length, volume, capacity, density and time–oh, my!
According to our state testing, measurement is one of the lowest scoring objectives. Why is it that kids have such a difficult time understanding measurement? Maybe it’s because we have to teach them TWO different systems, why can’t we just pick customary or metric?! But no, somehow we have to get them to understand that inches and centimeters, grams and ounces. It is like comparing apples and oranges–both fruit, but totally different. (No, no, you can’t report length as 6 inches and 1 centimeter!) And don’t even get me started on capacity!
In light of that, I decided to create a science unit dedicated to measurement. That way I give them a double dose: converting measurement in math, and hands-on measurement in science– bam, they won’t even know what hit ‘em! So here we go! Over the next several days I’ll post about my Measurement Packet and all the measurement activities, stay tuned!