activity page will offer:
into the physiological effects of stress
Construction of an electronic temperature measuring device
into the effect of emotion on body temperature
into the effect of relaxation on body temperature
A thermistor is an electronic device whose resistance varies with
temperature. When connected to a multimeter that is set to measure
resistance, the thermistor can be used to indicate relative temperatures.
In this activity, you'll attach a thermistor to your fingertip and
uncover a baseline temperature. Then, you'll observe how acting
out various emotional states affects this baseline. Finally, you'll
investigate if relaxation techniques can produce changes in the
(available through electronics stores such as Radio Shack)
wires with alligator clips
(also referred to as a voltmeter, these are basic electronic boxes
that can measure voltage, current, and resistance (hence the "multi"
in their name.) These are also available at an electronics store.
- Work with a partner. One of you will read measurements while
the other will have the thermistor attached to his/her finger.
Wrap the thermistor in a piece of tape so that hard and/or sharp
edges are covered.
- Use alligator clip connectors to attach each lead from your
thermistor to one of the probes of your multimeter. 3. Set the
multimeter to detect and measure resistance. Set aside for several
moments until the readout becomes stable. Record this value as
room temperature resistance. Gently blow on the thermistor. How
does your hot breath affect the displayed resistance?
- Position the wrapped thermistor against the inside of the tip
of the index finger. Use another piece of tape to secure the wrapped
thermistor to the skin. CAUTION: Do not tightly bind the tape
since this would interfere with blood circulation. Wait until
the display becomes stable. Record this value as baseline resistance.
- For several moments, have the subject act out the emotion of
anger. Observe and record any changes in the detected resistance.
- Then, have the subject act out the emotional states of sadness,
fright, happiness, and content. Each time, record any observed
changes in the resistance.
- Once again, obtain a baseline measurement for temperature.
- Then, have the subject enter a less-stressed state. Encourage
them to relax their muscles and meditate on calming thoughts.
Suggest deep breathing and concentrate on the word "calm." Maintain
this state for several minutes. Note and record any changes in
- Exchange roles and repeat steps 3 through 7.
- How does heat affect the thermistor?
- Did mood role playing affect the resistance?
- How did relaxation affect the multimeter display?
In this activity you examined temperature changes in fingertips.
Yet, the monks appeared to increase the temperature of their shoulders
and back. How would you adapt this classroom activity to more accurately
test the monks' ability to significantly alter body temperature?
Was the clip that showed monks steam-drying wet towels faked? How
do you know? What proof (if any) do you have that validates this
video footage? Should we believe someone just because they are a
scientist? Consider lunar landings. Some people say that the footage
showing astronauts on the moon is faked. How do we know that these
images are real and not a product of some Hollywood special effects
team? How might increasing ability of digital fakery affect our
future trust in the media?
on the Airwaves
Write a 5-minute infomercial in which you try to convince your listener
audience to pursue biofeedback therapies. Make sure to address their
apprehension and inertia in moving to a new healing strategy. Cite
the appropriate resources. You might even "stage" an interview with
a fictitious researcher, physician or satisfied patient. With your
instructor's approval, perform a staged reading of your work or
videotape it for class showing at a later date.
In this activity, you observed the effects of mood role-playing
and relaxation technique on the ability to regulate body temperature.
Consider additional parameters such as breathing rate, relative
percent of exhaled carbon dioxide, pulse rate, and blood pressure.
Expand your experimental design to include any of the additional
parameters. Share your design with your instructor and with his
or her permission perform the activity.
The acronym GSR stands for galvanic skin response. GSR is a measurement
of the skin's electrical conductivity. When you perspire, the skin's
ability to conduct electrical current increases. By measuring this
change in conductivity, scientists can gague emotional response.
Use Internet and print resources to uncover how the GSR is used
as a measurement in lie-detecting devices.
Review, History and Application http://members.cts.com/crash/d/deohair/psychoph.html
A history of biofeedback and its use and acceptance as a therapeutic
An example of how biofeedback may be used in the treatment of hypertension
A scientist's speculation and inquiry perspective on temperature
regulation by monks
Advisors for this Guide:
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School, Wayland,
Gary Pinkall, Middle School Science Teacher, Great Bend Public
Schools, Great Bend, KS