Make A Simple Thermometer science experiment : Fizzics Education


Make A Simple Thermometer

Make A Simple Thermometer

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

One Screw top container

One Clear Straw

Something to make a hole with eg. nail or hand drill

Food Colouring

Hot water bath, ice bath and hair dryer (Optional)

Moulding clay and a permanent marker

Balloons or Water Balloons (Options available also Blu-Tak or Plasticine)




Adult Help.


Make your own Thermometer Science Experiment - setup_materials
1 Make your own Thermometer Science Experiment - making a hole in the lid

Carefully, and with the help of an adult, bore a hole into the middle of the containers’ lid. Make
sure that the hole made is only slightly bigger than the diameter of your straw.

SAFETY: If children are to do this, make sure that the hand drills are not electrically powered.
Alternatively, hand drill the lids prior to children commencing the experiment or use balloons
instead of a plastic lid.

ALTERNATE VERSION: Use a bottle that already has a small opening (e.g. soft drink bottle) or

Use balloon or water balloon.

2 sealing with molding clay

Thread the straw through the hole and seal the joint with the moulding clay (Important: Roll the
moulding clay around the edge of the lid making sure of a good airtight seal.

You can also use a balloon with a hole in it to make a tight seal around the straw and bottle

3 Make your own Thermometer Science Experiment - adding food colouring to water

Fill your container to the brim with water and add in a couple of drops of food colouring.

4 Make your own Thermometer Science Experiment - blowing into straw

Gently blow into the straw – blowing hard may cause the water to rush up into your face!

5 Make your own Thermometer Science Experiment - air bubble

Blowing into the straw forces air into an enclosed space, thereby increasing the pressure within
the container. If your seals are airtight, you will find that water will rise up the straw once you
stop blowing. This may require some trouble shooting!

6 Make your own Thermometer Science Experiment - marking the straw

Mark the water level on the straw with the marker – this mark identifies where the water will be
when at room temperature.

7 Make your own Thermometer Science Experiment - heating water with hands

Now hold the container between your hands, thereby gently heating the water inside.
Alternatively you can use the hot water bath or even a hairdryer.

If all has gone well you will find that the water will have travelled up the straw.

SAFETY: Using electrical appliances near water can be dangerous, please have an adult
demonstrate this experiment.

8 clay at the top of a water bottle with blue liquid in it

Now try placing the home made thermometer into an ice bath, what will happen to the water?

9 A television screen showing a distance educator running science experiment with a bell jar, vacuum pump and a cup of water. There is an inset of a remote class on the screen and a video conference camera on top of the television.
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  • Direct curriculum links
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Why Does This Happen?

When liquids are heated they expand. Knowing that water expands when heated helps scientists to model the movement of ocean currents around the world.

This same principle is used in the every day mercury thermometer. Mercury is used within thermometers as it is liquid at -39oC and expands rapidly when heated, as well as that its convex meniscus allows for accurate temperature readings.

Variables to test

More on variables here

  • Can you make a thermometer with a wider straw?
  • What happens if you change the liquid to an oil or methylated spirits?

Learn more!!


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