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Temperature Units of Work

Temperature is the measure of how hot or cold things are. Students can perceive large differences in temperature and are exposed everyday to wide ranges in the temperature of objects, for example, cold drinks and hot showers. However our perception of temperature is affected by an immediately prior experience, for example the bedroom feels "freezing" if you have been seated in front of a fire. Important applications include temperature; cooking; planning picnics.

Level 1 Temperature

Achievement ObjectivesLearning OutcomesUnit title


  • describe objects as hot or cold
  • describe the day as hot or cold
  • compare the temperature of two objects
  • order a group of 2 or more objects by temperature

I'm Freezing 

Level 3 Temperature

Achievement ObjectivesLearning OutcomesUnit title


  • recognise the need for a standard unit of temperature
  • measure temperature (degrees Celcius) with a thermometer
  • calculate changes in temperatures

Weather dot com

Level 4 Temperature

Achievement ObjectivesLearning OutcomesUnit title
  • use thermometers to measure temperature in degrees Celsius
  • investigate factors that influence temperatures

Cool times with heat 

Stage One: Identifying the Attribute

Early temperature experiences must develop an awareness of what temperature is, and of the range of words that can be used to discuss temperature. The use of words such as hot, cold, warm and freezing, focuses attention on the attribute of temperature. Students need to experience a variety of temperatures by touching warm and cold objects. They can also observe the effects of heating and cooling objects.

Discussing the daily temperature and the variation that can occur within a day extends students’ awareness of temperature. A daily weather chart where the students record their observations about the weather is a useful activity.

Stage Two: Comparing and Ordering

Comparing the temperatures of objects is the second stage in developing an understanding of temperature.  Students can begin by touching two objects and determining which is warmer. They can then move to comparing and ordering three or more objects.

Students need also to experience the impact that heat has on an object. For example, butter melts when it is heated and ice-cream melts when it is taken out of the freezer.

In addition to ordering objects that they can touch, students need to discuss and observe features of hotter and colder days. They can then order pictures or photographs of hot and cold climates.

Stage 3: Non-Standard Units

The third stage in the measuring sequence is the use of non-standard or informal units. For example, the repeated use of hand-spans to measure the length of the table-top.

Temperature does not have informal or non-standard units so we miss this step in the learning sequence and move from direct comparisons to the standard unit.

Stage 4: Standard Units

Students’ measurement experiences must enable them to:

  1. develop an understanding of the size of the standard unit;
  2. estimate and measure using the unit.

Students need to get the feel of the unit (degrees Celsius) by comparing water at room temperature with samples five degrees hotter and colder. They also need lots of experience in using thermometers to measure everyday objects, for example, ice-cubes, body temperature and boiling water. As the daily temperature is regularly reported and discussed in everyday life students are able to get a feel for the range of temperatures that they experience.

Stage 5: Applying and Interpreting

When students understand the use of degree Celsius in everyday life they can investigate the use of temperature measurement in health, science and industry.