STEAM Connections: Thermometer
4 mins read

STEAM Connections: Thermometer

It’s a new day and time to get dressed to face it. Do you need to put on layers of clothes or will shorts and a t-shirt do? If you haven’t gone outside, how do you know what to wear? No matter the weather, we can always figure it out if we know the temperature.

What is temperature? Temperature is how much heat energy an object has. It could be a body of water, a person, it could be the air, or it could be each one of us because everything conducts heat. Temperature is something we feel. Knowing the temperature of something is important because temperature is something we feel. How do we measure temperature? With a tool that measures how much heat energy something has called a thermometer.

“Thermo” means heat and a “meter” means a measuring device. Let’s make our own thermometer and experiment that measures the temperature of ice cold water to see how our thermometer works!

See our video showing you how to make a thermometer below, along with step-by-step instructions.

STEAM Connections

• Science: Life Science; Meteorology


1. Using the ruler, mark the straw at half-centimeter intervals with the permanent marker – these marks will be the level marks on your thermometer

2. Use the modeling clay to form a round, flat piece that is larger than the neck of your bottle

3. Poke a hole through the middle of the clay with your straw and remove any pieces of clay clogging the straw – the clay will act as a seal on the bottle and hold the straw in place

4. Pour rubbing alcohol into the bottle until it is about half full and add a few drops of food coloring

5. Put the lid back on the bottle and shake it so that the rubbing alcohol and food coloring mix well

6. Take the lid off the bottle and fill the syringe or dropper with the rubbing alcohol/food coloring mixture – set the syringe/dropper aside on a paper towel

7. Make sure the bottle is still about half full of the liquid – if needed, add more rubbing alcohol to the bottle

8. Put the straw (with the clay piece attached) into the bottle – the straw should be immersed in the liquid, but should not touch the bottom of the bottle

9. Seal the bottle opening with the clay

10. Use the dropper/syringe to drop the liquid mixture into the straw

11. If water begins dripping past the clay seal and into the bottle, readjust the clay to ensure an airtight seal – repeat step 10 to retest the seal

12. The liquid inside the straw should be visible above the clay seal (the part of the straw that sticks up)

13. Experiment: pour cold water and ice cubes into a small bowl


Explore additional STEAM concepts on our website and blog Plano Library Learns/STEAM Learning, including information about library databases for each aspect of STEAM.

Temperature is something we feel. Temperature is an indication of how much heat energy an object has. Almost everything has heat energy. A thermometer measures how much heat energy something has. When we know how much heat energy something has, we know its temperature. Whether it’s the air around us or water we might need to use, knowing the temperature helps us understand what to expect before we feel it.

What did you observe? What happened when you added cold water to the mixture in the bowl? What do you think would happened if you put the bottle in a small bowl with warm water?

Additional Resources

Explore additional resources on our website and blog Plano Library Learns, including information about library databases.

PBS Kids
Weather: Measuring Temperature PBS

Books to Explore

Use your library card to checkout more books or download eBooks and continue learning and exploring

by Navin Sullivan

Hot and Cold
by Terry Jennings

Science Projects With Temperature and Heat
by Robert Gardner

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