Thermometer Accuracy

Submitted by Becky Baranowski on

In my differential equations class, students ran an experiment on the accuracy of a nondigital thermometer.  Most directions for use of nondigital thermometers say to leave under the tongue for 2 minutes, so students tested the accuracy of this.   Three groups performed different activities for two minutes (cheweing gum (placebo group), jumping jacks, and drinking a cold refreshing beverage).  Students collected temperature readings every 30 seconds for 4 minutes.  Data was run through Logger Pro, and students analyzed data using best fit lines.  They then compared their best fit line to the differential equation that models this situation (Newton's Law of Cooling).  Each group found that it took about 3-4 minutes for the thermometer to stabilize.  Through this experiment, I found several issues in the students' lab reports.  Students didn't include information that I requested, did not include their data set in their final report, and used wrong data points to solve their differential equation.  So, in spring, I plan to rewrite the directions for this activity (original one is attached) and redo the lab. 

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Average: 4.5 (2 votes)


Jennifer Shannon Tue, 01/13/2015 - 10:41am

Very good idea. I am interested to see your completed results. 

Anil Kapoor Wed, 01/14/2015 - 2:12pm

Cant wait to see you close the loop so I can see your data.

Heather Muns Fri, 02/13/2015 - 11:50pm

Sounds like a solid plan.  Hopefully rewording the directions will make the difference.  

Peter Turner Mon, 02/16/2015 - 4:52pm

Great basis for creating another worthy CATS! I look forward to the directions you craft to resolve the current issues.