Temperature Scales

This activity will give students a feel for the different temperature scales and will give them practice converting between the scales.

Time requirement: 30 minutes as an activity.



  1. Obtain the high and low temperatures for your location every day for a week. It should be easy to find these each day in a local newspaper. The temperatures will probably be in the Fahrenheit scale.
  2. Make a table with 7 rows and six columns. Each row in the table is for a day of the week. The first column in the table is for high temperatures in the Fahrenheit scale. The second column is for low temperatures in the Fahrenheit scale. The third and fourth columns are for high and low Celsius temperatures. The fifth and sixth columns are for high and low Kelvin temperatures. Label the rows and columns in the table.
  3. Enter the daily high and low Fahrenheit temperatures at your location in the first two columns of the table.
  4. Convert the Fahrenheit temperatures to the Celsius scale and fill in the third and fourth columns of the table. If necessary, use a calculator or a temperature conversion chart. If your newspaper has the daily high and low temperatures in Celsius degrees, check your calculations to verify that they are correct.
  5. Convert the Celsius temperatures in your table to the Kelvin scale and fill in the fifth and sixth columns of your table. The Kelvin temperatures will most certainly not be in your local newspaper, but that does not mean that the Kelvin scale is not a useful one!!!

Observation questions

  1. You should now be comfortable converting between temperature scales and have a feel for the range of temperatures on each scale. What are the boiling and freezing points of water on each scale?
  2. What happens at zero degrees on the Kelvin scale?
  3. Why do you think that there are different temperature scales in the first place?

Last updated: September 02, 1997
Joe Twicken / joe@nova.stanford.edu
Rob Wigand