Dawson County Middle School eighth-graders got a chance last week to build digital thermometers from base components. Now, they're learning to use what they created.
"We used these thermometers to start on states of matter experiments," said Amanda Moore, who teaches eighth grade science at the school.
"We melted and froze mothballs, because the freezing and melting point is so drastically different from water, and used the thermometers to see the temperature that these are achieved at."
The students began building the probe thermometers two weeks ago in Kevin Grigsby's eighth-grade technology class. They had help from University of North Georgia professor Joe Covert and some of his students.
"This is a great partnership with the University of North Georgia," said Principal Mark Merges. "We sat down to try to figure out a way to buy or create these probe [thermometers] to help in our physical science labs and Professor Covert got with the technology at the university and there's a technology student there that actually built a prototype."
The devices cost $25 a piece. Originally, Merges said the school was looking at probes costing about $100.
"I think that everyone benefits because they are made by the students," Moore said. "It's worked really well, because what we are doing with heat transfer, they are able to see that temperature digitally, which is nice, because usually those are very expensive.
"Before we had to use the old-fashioned thermometer, and they've been excited to use what they have built."
The students agreed with Moore, preferring the new digital readouts, as well as working with something they had a hand in creating.
"We learned how to measure the temperature and how energy transfers," said eighth-grader Fallan Lacey "It's a lot easier to use these than a [mercury] thermometer."
And so far, the devices are working exactly as planned.
"They are working great," said Courtney Crowder, who helped build the thermometers in Grigsby's class. "We haven't had any problems with them."
And, according to Covert, due to the processors in the thermometers, it wouldn't be a stretch to convert the devices to measure other things.
"In the future, you could conceivably do the next step to researching the reasoning behind the codes used on these thermometers," he said. "Given enough time, we could go in and have the kids put another sensor on the board and reprogram it to something else. That $25 is only the foundation for another data-collecting computer."