Weather: Temperature Measurement (Grade Levels: 5-9)

In the 1700s, G. Daniel Fahrenheit developed a scale used by meteorologists for measuring surface temperature. The scale was named for the developer, and the unit of measure has become known as degree Fahrenheit (F°). Also in the eighteenth century, a second scale was developed for measuring surface temperature; it became known as the Celsius scale. The unit of measure in the Celsius scale is the degree Celsius (C°). A third scale later developed for use by scientists became known as the Kelvin scale. This scale begins at absolute zero and is sometimes more convenient to use because it does not involve negative temperatures. (The word degree is not used in Kevin measure.)

Citizens of the United States primarily use the Fahrenheit scale, the rest of the world uses the Celsius scale, and scientist use either the Celsius or Kelvin scale. Since we can use three different scales used to measure temperature, it seems reasonable to have formulas for changing or converting from scale to the another. Here are some useful conversion formulas.

C° = (F° - 32°) ÷ 1.8

F° = 1.8 x C° + 32

K = C°+273

1. If the temperature is 75° Fahrenheit, what are the equivalent readings on the Celsius and Kelvin scales?

2. If the temperature is 26° Celsius, what are the equivalent readings on the Fahrenheit and Kelvin scales?

3. If the temperature is 288 Kelvin, what are the equivalent readings on the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales?

4. Create a formula to determine the Kelvin temperature give the degrees Fahrenheit.

The following table shows the normal high temperatures, in degrees Fahrenheit, for each month for three selected US cities.

 City Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Baltimore 41 44 53 65 74 83 87 86 79 68 56 45 San Francisco 57 61 62 63 65 68 69 70 73 70 63 57 St. Louis 38 43 53 67 76 85 89 87 81 69 54 43

5. Use the information in the table to determine the mean high temperature for each of these three cities.

6. Based solely on the mean high temperature, can you easily decide in which city you might like to live? Why or why not?

7. Use the information in the table to determine the median high temperature for each of these three cities.

8. Based solely on the median high temperature, can you easily decide in which city you might like to live? Why or why not?

9. Make a box plot of the monthly high temperatures for each city and compare them. Do the plots influence your choice of the city? If so, in what way.

10. What information do you receive from using the box plots that was unavailable from the mean or the median?

11. Describe another method you could use to get more information from this table that might help decide which city might have the best temperature for you.