Differences in heat power (as measure up by temperature) can be an overwhelming to visualize. Combining scientific data with visual information, such together color, have the right to help.

You are watching: What do the colors mean in thermal imaging

The weather map presented on the news, web or newspaper, is a great example. A shade scale offers information around temperature ranges across a given location (state, nation, or region).

A related technology, dubbed thermography, supplies cameras to detect infrared radiation given off by an object. Infrared radiation is emitted by all objects based on their temperature, so the resulting image (called a thermogram) permits one to check out variations in temperature. Also known as thermal imaging, the modern technology has been offered in a range of ways: at airports to detect swine flu instances during the 2009 pandemic, by firefighters come see through smoke and also locate persons, through maintenance employees to recognize overheating parts and heat leaks, and also in studies of physiological procedures in humans and animals.

How walk one translate a thermogram? take into consideration this photo of one industrial electric fuse block (courtesy Wikimedia Commons).


The image of the lion mirrors that warm is exit from most of the animal, not included its thick mane. The eyes, ears, and also belly that the lion relax the many heat and also are as such the brightest colors. In contrast, the polar bear’s extremely thick hair is fantastic insulator, so most of its body is dark. Just the confront is one area where warmth is released.

While college student don’t have access to thermal-imaging technology, lock can apply the very same principle to study temperature distinctions in your classroom, school, or residence – and begin come investigate energy efficiency!


Before beginning this activity, students need to be acquainted with the idea that color scales deserve to represent temperature ranges. If needed, lug in color weather maps to share v the class.

To create a “thermogram” the the classroom, a teacher (or students) should first create a an easy map that the classroom, consisting of doors, desks, vents, and also windows. Teachers have to photocopy this map so that all students have a copy.

Next, students should gather temperature data indigenous various places in the classroom. Teachers might elect to do this v whole class activity, little groups, or individual students, relying on the allotted time and also student comfort with using thermometers. Data need to be accumulated from as plenty of different point out in the great as possible – close to windows, the door, the board, computers, desks, and so forth. Teachers might wish to produce a huge data chart to display the temperatures. Students deserve to then usage a pencil come lightly record temperatures ~ above the suitable locations on their map.

Once the data have been collected, the course should develop a temperature scale and assign colour to every temperature. College student then color in the map that the classroom accordingly. If this is too daunting for students, teachers could create a single class map on butcher paper, an interaction whiteboard, or an overhead projector, or by making use of a paper camera.

Once the map has been created, ask student to analysis the data. What areas are warmest in the classroom? What room the coldest? Why carry out they watch these types of temperature differences? This discussion can lead into an investigation of insulators or a conversation of energy performance in schools and homes.

In addition, because that upper-elementary student this classroom thermogram deserve to be another arrival to the shade imaging that they will encounter later on in science textbooks.

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This post was composed by Jessica Fries-Gaither. For more information, watch the Contributors page. Email Kimberly Lightle, major Investigator, with any type of questions around the contents of this site.