At-home science experiment

How to Make a Cloud In a Glass

NBC Universal, Inc.

With students across the state home from school, here is a science experiment that you can do athome.

Materials needed:

  • An adult!
  • Medium-size bowl
  • A glass, jar, vase – whatever you have! Filled with hot water
  • A towel
  • A bag of ice
  • A match

Instructions:

  • Wrapping your towel around the glass, pour most of the hot water into the medium-sized bowl leaving, ~1/2” in the bottom of the glass
  • Light a match and drop it in the glass
  • Quickly place the bag of ice on top of the glass
  • Watch your cloud form!

The Science:

So how does this relate to the atmosphere?

Even though we can’t see it in the glass or in the air around us, there is a ton of water vapor and little tiny particles called condensation nuclei all around us that is invisible to our eyes.

When we drop the match into the glass, we create the condensation nuclei in the air that we typically cannot see. These tiny particles rise in the glass just like they do in the atmosphere where it’s warmer on the earths surface (thanks to the warm water in our glass) and colder high above our heads (that’s the ice that we set on top of our glass).

The water vapor rising clings to the invisible air particles, they all clump together as they climb higher and higher and eventually so many clumps come together that they form a cloud.

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