Measuring Temperature (Making a Thermometer)

Part of the "Predicting Weather" Collection


Students will make a thermometer to measure temperature.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • S4E4. Students will analyze weather charts/maps and collect weather data to predict weather events and infer patterns and seasonal changes.
    • a. Identify weather instruments and explain how each is used in gathering weather data and making forecasts (thermometer, rain gauge, barometer, wind vane, anemometer).
    • b. Using a weather map, identify the fronts, temperature, and precipitation and use the information to interpret the weather conditions.
    • c. Use observations and records of weather conditions to predict weather patterns throughout the year.


  • 11 oz plastic bottle (1 per small group)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Red food coloring
  • Modeling clay
  • Clear straw


  1. Distribute materials and lead students in following the directions on the following website to build their thermometers:
  2. Notice that just like any thermometer, when the mixture is warmed (like from the heat of your hands around it), it expands moving the colored mixture up through the straw.