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Abstract

This science fair project was performed to compare the readings of various types of thermometers. The measurements were done using a mercury glass thermometer, a digital thermocouple thermometer and an infrared thermometer.

Hypothesis

Readings using different types of thermometers will be the same but different readings will be obtained from different parts of the body.

Scientific Terms

Blood capillaries, mercury glass thermometer, a digital thermocouple thermometer and an infrared thermometer

Background

Body temperature

Body temperatures are a result of our bodies producing, maintaining and dissipating heat. When our body heats up, the blood capillaries under our skin will expand resulting in an increase in blood flow - this allows more heat to be carried from within our body to the surface of our skin. This is where the heat is released/dissipates - resulting an reduction of the body temperature. In cold climates, the blood vessels contract restricting the flow of blood to the skin surface, allowing for increased heat retention.

A normal body temperature is about 37 °C and this temperature may vary by about 0.6 °C depending on the time of the day. The temperature measured at our body cavities (eg. inside the ear or rectum) is normally up to 0.6 °C higher than oral temperature reading. Temperatures taken at the armpit or the skin, will be up to 0.6 °C lower than the oral temperature reading. Therefore different parts of the body will give different temperature readings.

Temperatures are taken from inside the mouth and under our armpits with a mercury or digital thermometer. Temperatures at the forehead are normally measured using a plastic thermal strip. The temperature is measured at the tympanic membrane inside the ear using an infrared thermometer.

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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
80
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 1 hour for science fair project
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Be extremely careful with glass mercury thermometers to avoid breakage/spillage of the mercury, which can be extremely toxic/dangerous. Adult assistance is required.