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Sun and Temperatures
Task with Student Directions
Contributed by: New York State Alternative Assessment in Science Project (NYSED)

Task: To infer the temperature of four thermometers and explain why they should have those values inferred.

Four thermometers, called A, B, C, and D, were put outdoors near each other. It was at noon time on a bright sunny day in June. Thermometer A was left out in the sunlight on a lightly colored sidewalk. Thermometer B was put on the same sidewalk, but in the shade. Thermometer C was placed in an inflated air tight clear plastic bag and left on the same sidewalk in the sunlight. Thermometer D was placed in an inflated air tight clear plastic bag and put in the sunlight in a swimming pool.

After 1 hour, the temperature readings of the thermometers were as follows:

  • 31o C (88oF)
  • 44o C (112oF)
  • 34o C (94oF)
  • 54o C (130oF)

Also at that time the temperature of the air was 31oC (88oF) and the pool temperature was 29oC (85oF).

  1. Record on the chart below those thermometer readings from above that you think goes with each thermometer (A, B, C, D) based on where each thermometer had been located.


Temperature You Think

  1. Open air, in sunlight, on white sidewalk


  1. Open air, in shade, on white sidewalk


  1. Plastic bag, in sunlight, on white sidewalk


  1. Plastic bag, in sunlight, in swimming pool


  1. Explain why you think each of the thermometers had the reading you gave compared to the other thermometers.





  2. Compare conditions from one thermometer (A, B, C, or D) to support the following "public service announcement" that is heard on radio and TV and seen in the press. "Do not leave pets unattended in a closed-up car during clear, warm days."



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