When you hear the words, “Science” and “Fair,” together in the same sentence, I am sure that a feeling of dread falls over your body. My eight grade science fair was probably one of the worst events that I ever had to partake in during my school career; but it doesn’t have to be! Great science experiments that you and your children can do together are out there! Here is an experiment that I had to recently engage in during my Science for Educator’s course that investigates how pressure in the atmosphere is linked to the formation of clouds by making a “cloud chamber”.
-A wide-mouthed jar
1.Cover the bottom of the jar with water.
2.Hang the glove inside the jar with the fingers pointing down and stretch the gloves opening over the mouth of the jar to seal it.
3.Insert your hand into the glove and quickly pull it outward without disturbing the seal. Nothing happens.
4.Next remove the glove and drop a lit match into the beaker and replace the glove. The match will go out and create smoke particles in the beaker which will become nucleation sites.
5.Pull outward on the glove once more. Fog forms inside the jar when you pull the glove outward and disappears when the glove snaps back. The fog will form for five to ten minutes before the smoke particles settle and have to be replenished.
6. Now that you know how to use the cloud chamber, experiment with the different variables. What happens if you put in more than one lit match? What happens if you increase the level of water in the jar? What would happen if you pushed the glove into the chamber instead of pulling it out?
Turning this simple, yet excitng, science experiment into a science fair project is a piece of cake! The topic of your science fair project can be that complicated question: How do clouds form? Begin by introducing different types of clouds. Gather images and information for a posterboard. Also find the “text-book” answer of how clouds are formed and back up the definition with the experiment; analyze it, if you will. You can even include the parts of the water cycle, as it plays a very important part in the formation of clouds You can also include key terms such as clouds, atmosphere, pressure, humidity, and water vapor. Also, include challenging questions and the their answers that you derived from the experiment including:
-How does atmospheric pressure effect the formation of clouds?
-How are clouds nucleated by particles in the atmosphere?
or make up your own! You can derive and answer plenty of your own questions about clouds based on the experiment and past knowledge.
People will be amazed that you can form your very own cloud using simple, every-day items!