Celsius vs. Fahrenheit

Contributor: April Stokes. Lesson ID: 10771

Does water freeze at 32 degrees or 0 degrees? Yes! How can it be both? One is Fahrenheit, one is Celsius, two different measuring systems. Watch a video and try some online stuff to learn about them!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio: Image - Button Play
Image - Lession Started Image - Button Start

Celsius versus Fahrenheit . . . Who will win?

Energy flows from warmer matter to cooler matter, and the energy, or motion, of the particles of the matter is what is measured to determine the temperature of the substance.

As matter gains energy and the particles speed up, the temperature increases.

Not everyone senses heat in the same way.

Suppose you and a friend go swimming in a pool. You think the water is just right, but your friend thinks the water is too cold. If another friend came to the pool to swim and asked you and your friend, "How is the water?", who would be correct? For this reason, scientists have developed devices to measure temperature accurately.

In the early 1700s, Gabriel Fahrenheit, a German scientist, developed the first standard scale for measuring temperature.

He put some mercury in a sealed tube and placed this device — a thermometer — in a mixture of ice, salt, and ammonia. The mixture offered the coldest temperature he could get. Fahrenheit marked the level of the mercury in the tube at this temperature and called this point 0 degrees, or 0°C. Then Fahrenheit measured the level of the mercury at the temperature of the human body and labeled this point 96. He also measured temperature at which plain water froze, calling it 32.

Fahrenheit's scale became the first standard measure of temperature. It is still the most commonly used temperature scale in the United States, but it is not the only scale used.

In 1742, Anders Celsius, a Swedish astronomer, developed another scale for measuring temperature. He experimented with measuring the melting point of snow and the boiling point of water. Celsius called these points 0 and 100. He divided the distance between these points into 100 equal degrees. This system became known as the Celsius scale. Today scientist use the Celsius scale, which is part of the metric system.

Scientists and mathematicians have developed methods for converting between the two scales. Watch the following Celsius to Fahrenheit Conversion Trick from The funza Academy video to learn how to perform the conversion without remembering or calculating fractions:

Image - Video


Move on to the Got It? section to review with games and an interactive quiz.

Image - Button Next