Lab Journal

Big Thermometers, Small World

July 19, 2010 by Michael

Thermometers are very unique tools and devices. Imagine how hard it would be for high school students to make one? Well, I was assigned the arduous task of building two, 7 ft tall thermometers!
Okay, they were not real thermometers, but they ended up looking very realistic. FedEx boxes in the shape of triangular prisms and tubes were used for the base of the thermometers and were then wrapped with massive sheets of white paper. For one thermometer, an outline of the thermometer was drawn on each of the three sides of the FedEx box. The mercury was colored in with red color pencil. The other thermometer had a round base due to the tubing used. I cut the shape of the mercury from a red paper bag and wrote numbers on the white paper for the temperature reading. When they were done, they looked nice, but only from one dimension. Clearly there was work needed to be done in order to improve them. Many hours were dedicated to the thermometers because they were valuable tools used to attract residents of the community in order to give them an understanding of their environment. We needed them to be perfect.

As the renovation of the thermometers began, the thought process was perhaps the hardest part. Thinking about ways to construct them took much time, but the majority of the time went to the manual work. The first versions of the thermometers were a little more than 6ft, but with additions made to them, they grew about a foot taller. I cut cardboard tubing to make the ends of the thermometers round, spray mounted strips of white paper on the ends and used paper mache to smooth the paper out. Additions were made to the bottom of each thermometer in order to create a similar structure of a real thermometer. After that was a said and done, it was time for the mercury. The ShadeLab team decided to use paint because it was a more realistic color and it did not smear like the color pencils. There was a lot of debating on what color the bottom of the thermometer should be. Someone suggested we paint the bottom gray/silver, but I thought red was a much more attractive color. We settled this by taking surveys in and out the office. It was a close call, but red won 14-3.

Blood, sweat, and some tears were put into this project, but in the end, it was worth it. The thermometers look way more realistic with a hint of attitude.


posted by Gilberto
October 04, 2012, 12:48am

I have an Exergen Temporal Artery Scanner and I love it!  (I also love that after 3+ years of use, it still works fantastically).  I’d be itrneested in trying one of these but the 6 seconds makes me leery.  The Exergen takes about 2, max. Sometimes that’s a bit long.  Having to keep a squirmy, sick kid from moving enough to get a good read might be tough?  what do you think?and how much do these run?

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