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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 8 Issue 2 (2003) pp 151-154

An Integrated Mathematical Approach to Presenting Temperature Scales via Demonstration

Kent J. Crippen

Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, 89154-3005,
Received December 6, 2002. Accepted December 22, 2002

Published online: 3 February 2003

Abstract. This paper describes an approach to presenting the Fahrenheit, Celsius, and Kelvin temperature scales highlighting the following areas: (1) the historical context for the scale, (2) the impetus and basis for the scale, and (3) the mathematical relationship between the scales. This approach asks students to think about the scales in terms of a series of linear functions. This functional relationship is established by measuring and modeling pressure and temperature in a constant-volume gas thermometer. Further, students consider the conversion between temperature scales as the translation of a function based upon physical properties. The result is a deeper understanding of the temperature scales and the importance mathematics can play in understanding scientific concepts.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; temperature, math integration

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (216 KB) HTML format [Minor revision to remove parenthesis on Fahrenheit to Celsius equation on page 151 4/14/03]

Issue date: April 1, 2003

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