Up and Down: How Can You Make a Model of a Fahrenheit Thermometer?

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Author: Janice VanCleave


How Can You Make a Model of a Fahrenheit Thermometer?


  • two sheets of white poster board, each 22 × 28 inches (55 × 70 cm)
  • yardstick (meterstick)
  • scissors
  • red crayon
  • marking pen
  • transparent tape


  1. From one of the sheets of poster board, cut a 14-by-28-inch (35-by-70- cm) strip and an 8-by-28-inch (20-by- 70-cm) strip.
  2. Color the bulb on the large strip and one side of the narrower strip red.
  3. On the larger strip, draw a thermometer using the measurements shown in the diagram.
  4. Up and Down

  5. Cut out and remove the 4-by-22-inch (10-by-55-cm) section above the thermometer bulb.
  6. From the second sheet of poster board, cut a 14-by-28-inch (35-by-70- cm) strip.
  7. Cut a 100-inch (25-cm) slit 4 inches (10 cm) from the short edge of the strip. The slit should be centered horizontally.
  8. Place the strip behind the thermometer and tape the edges of the two strips together.
  9. Insert the narrow paper strip into the slit so that the red side shows through the cut-out section of the thermometer.
  10. Holding the poster, slowly pull the red strip down and observe its height at each temperature mark.


Moving the red-colored strip up and down makes the temperature reading on the thermometer increase and decrease.


A thermometer is an instrument used to measure temperature. Temperature measures how hot a material is, which equals the average kinetic energy (energy of motion) of the molecules in the material. The higher the temperature of a material, the faster its molecules are moving around. As molecules move faster, they move farther apart. In a real thermometer, as the material in the bulb gets hotter, it expands and moves up the tube. As the material cools, its molecules move slower and move closer together, and the material moves down the thermometer tube.

Up and Down

A thermometer is calibrated. This means that the different heights along the tube are marked so that the distance from one mark to the next represents a change of the same number of degrees in the temperature of the material.

Let's Explore

  1. Use a thermometer calibrated in both Fahrenheit and Celsius to mark Celsius degrees on the model. Science Fair Hint: Find out more about the thermometer scales of Fahrenheit and Celsius and how they differ. Display examples of calculations showing how Fahrenheit degrees are mathematically changed to Celsius degrees and examples of Celsius degrees changed to Fahrenheit degrees.
  2. Weather is the result of changing conditions in the blanket of air surrounding the earth called the atmosphere. The study of weather is called meteorology, and the scientists who study weather are called meteorologists. One condition of the atmosphere that changes is its temperature. Meteorologists often refer to the freezing point of water (32 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Celsius) when measuring air temperature. A temperature expected to be below freezing indicates that the air temperature will drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Mark the freezing point of water on the thermometer model. Science Fair Hint: Display the model as part of your project.
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