Sensors to measure heat and temperature
These sensors are available in all flavours to suit different applications. You should be able to decide on the type that suits whole class use and have any others for projects. Take care not to use different range sensors in the same experiment as different temperature scales on the screen are very confusing! For the same reason, avoid switchable range sensors as these inadvertently add a variable to class management. The mix of traces appearing on screens across the room has had us in tears!
Full range temperature sensor
Extremely versatile and often inexpensive probe. As with many devices, accuracy is less good at the extremes of their range – hence water appears to boil at the wrong temperature. Some probes like PTAT probes (proportional to absolute temperature) aim to get round this.
Low temperature sensor
Intended for sub-zero work on depression of freezing point for example
Body temperature range sensor
Working on the idea than a narrow range sensor is more sensitive, this is useful for measuring subtle changes in skin, room or water temperature. Use it for changes in skin temperature due to exercise or perspiration. Most teachers will make do with a full range temperature sensor but it is surprising how many experiments could be adapted to work at a lower temperature
Thermocouple and high temperature sensors
These devices will have a few niche uses measuring flame temperatures or a kiln temperature for example.
- For monitoring the cooking of food.
- For checking temperatures in different parts of an oven, a Bunsen flame and comparing the combustion temperatures of different fuels.
- For studying melting points of metals.
- For making a cooling curve for oil.
- For comparing temperatures on black and white surfaces heated by the same source.
I’ve rated these sensors but your assessment will be different. I give a score, out of five, for the sensor’s intrigue, interest, and learning potential. I also give a score for how often a science department might use it.