Wednesday, 9 April 2014

How do clouds form?

Has your child ever asked you this? Or maybe, a different question - why does it rain? Well, here's an interesting way to give an answer!

This experiment is very simple and requires no elaborate arrangements. What you will need, is -

A decent sized tall bottle or jar
Ice cubes
Hot water
Lighting matchstick

That's it! And you are ready to go!

Boil some water and pour it into the bottle till it is filled to at least 1/3rd of the bottle. Cover the bottle with its lid, but put it upside down. On the lid place some ice cubes.

Wait for just about a few seconds before you throw a lighted matchstick inside the jar and shut it immediately again with the upturned lid. You will see white smoke swirl up inside the jar.

Let your child know that this is the cloud formation. Let her know that air, when hot, becomes light and goes up in the air (my daughter, at this point, remembered about the hot air balloon that goes up in the air - so this could be a point of discussion if your child initiates it). This air goes up, cools down and comes down as rain. Simple. 

When you open the lid in a while, the cloud of smoke will escape. Let your child touch it. How did it feel? Was it still hot? Your child can also notice the condensed droplets of water that have formed on the upturned lid.

What we did was - when we trapped the hot water inside the jar, we created warm moisture. As the warm air rose, water vapour was formed (evaporation). Ice cubes on top helped cool the water, or condense, sooner.  On condensation, the cool air turned back into water droplets that you see in the inside of the lid and dripping from the sides of the jar.

The above info was just in case those questions pop up - they are not necessarily a part of the experiment. As I have mentioned before -  the idea is just to fascinate, and that, those little ones will be! :-)

You can do this experiment without the matchstick as well; alternatively, you can use any aerosol liquid (maybe, hairspray) instead of it. The effect will be the same; the smoke created as a result of the matchstick dying out helps add to the visual treat!

Please note : The water in the jar is very hot and you have to exercise caution around your children.

Do you think this experiment is useful and interesting enough to do at home?  :-) Do let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Well captured pics and explained it with such simplicity. Definitely useful. We are going to have this exploration soon. Thanks so much.