Sample questions: Back to main heat and temperature page

Question: What does the temperature scale on the thermometer measure?

Answer: It measures the average Kinetic Energy of a substance. In other words, it measures the average motion of the molecules in a substance.

Question: Imagine you put a thermometer in your mouth. How does the heat flowing from your mouth affect the atoms in the thermometer?

Answer: Heat flows from warm places to cooler places. Thus, heat is conducted into the cooler thermometer. The heat causes the molecules in the thermometer to vibrate more quickly. The increased kinetic energy of the atoms causes them to spread out and rise up the tube. The end result is that you can read your body temperature.

Try this! Put one hand on the table, and the other on the metal of your chair. One feels colder. Why?

Why does warm air rise?

What is the difference between heat and temperature?

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