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Create a Cloud in a Bottle (Demonstration Version)

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Grade Level: Grade K-5
Estimated Time for Completing Activity: One 50-minute period.

Learning Outcomes:
  • To determine conditions necessary for cloud formation.
National Standards:
  • Science Content A: Science as Inquiry
  • Science Content D: Earth and Space Science
Virginia Standards of Learning:
  • Science K.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 1.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 2.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 3.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 4.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 4.6 : The student will investigate and understand how weather conditions and phenomena occur and can be predicted.
  • Science 5.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 6.3 : The student will investigate and understand the role of solar energy in driving most natural processes within the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and on Earth's surface.
  • Science 6.6 : The student will investigate and understand the properties of air and the structure and dynamics of Earth's atmosphere.
Prerequisite: A general understanding of the atmospheric processes needed to form clouds.

Materials:
  • Two clear, clean 2-litre bottles with the labels removed
  • Cap for the 2-litre bottle
  • Matches
  • Cold water
  • Warm water
Vocabulary:
Lesson Links:
Background: As clouds are a major part of the atmosphere, they are very important to study. While there are no two clouds that are alike, most form starting the same way. As the Sun's energy reaches the Earth, this process starts with the evaporation of water on the surface. As the water vapor rises further and further in the atmosphere, the water vapor is cooled and will condense. The water vapor will attach to condensation nuclei (most any particulate or aerosol in the atmosphere to which the water vapor can attach to). As more condensation occurs in the atmosphere, the cloud will continue to grow. This is the process that occurs for the formation of almost all clouds. In the lesson you will be simulating this same process by simulating the pressure and temperature changes in the atmosphere inside a bottle.

Procedure:
  1. With a permanent marker, label one of the two-litre bottles TEST and one CONTROL.
  2. Into the CONTROL bottle, place approximately 5 cm (2 inches) of cool water, and replace the lid. Now set the bottle aside.
  3. Into the bottle labeled TEST, place approximately 5 cm (2 inches) of cool water, and replace the lid.
  4. Gently shake both bottles for a few seconds.
  5. Squeeze and release both bottles approximately 4 times (This works best if there is a firm steady squeeze and quick release)
  6. See Question 1 under Assessment (Write all answers on your own paper, notebook or science journal)
  7. After answering the question, have the teacher place a lit match in the TEST bottle and quickly replace the lid.
  8. Wait approximately 30 seconds for the smoke to dissipate.
  9. Squeeze and release the bottle as you did in step 5.
  10. See Question 2 under Assessment
  11. After answering the question, try squeezing the control bottle once more.
  12. See Question 3 under Assessment.
  13. Repeat steps 2-12 with warm water in place of the cool water. Answer the same questions again for the warm water (Questions 4-6)
  14. Answer the Conclusion questions 1 and 2 on your own paper, notebook or science journal.
  15. Answer Questions 7-9 on your own paper.
Extensions:
  • Replace white light with colored light, and ask students to predict changes, if any, to the results.
Teacher Notes:
  • Depending on grade level, this lesson can be done as a demonstration along with a lesson on the same topic for better understanding.
  • The questions under the Assessment section can be used as teaching prompts instead of questions for the students, depending on grade and learning goals.
  • Depending on the structure of the lesson set-up, the students may need to write the questions and answers on their own paper, science notebook or journal.
  • There are a number of other things that can be done differently in this experiment to produce the same results.
    • One example is through the use of a fizz saver. This item can be purchased from the grocery store or several Internet sites. Along with the fizz saver, a liquid crystal temperature strip used in aquariums can be purchased from a pet store. The temperature strip is to be attached to the bottom of the fizz saver. Instead of squeezing the bottle to increase the pressure, just pump the fizz saver. To release the pressure just loosen the cap (this should be done fairly quickly).
    • Before the water is added to the bottle, the students can pump up the fizz saver in increments of 10 pumps and see the relationship between pressure and temperature. Notes can be made on a chart that shows number of pumps and corresponding temperature, then graphed if time permits. After approx 70-80 pumps, have the students note the temperature and then quickly release the pressure from the bottle and once again note the temperature.
  • For an alternate way to create a cloud in the classroom take a look at the "Cloud in a Jar" lesson.
Assessment:

Cool water:
  1. Does anything happen inside the bottles? Describe what you see.
  2. Does anything happen inside the TEST bottle? Describe what you see.
  3. Does anything happen inside the CONTROL bottle? Describe what you see in the CONTROL bottle.
Warm water:
  1. Does anything happen inside the bottles? Describe what you see.
  2. Does anything happen inside the TEST bottle? Describe what you see.
  3. Does anything happen inside the CONTROL bottle? Describe what you see in the CONTROL bottle.
  4. Why does shaking the bottle help in the experiment?
  5. What is the purpose of the smoke in the bottle?
  6. Did using the warm water work better? Why or why not?
As an addition to the experiment, the students could draw a picture of the experimental design and label all of the necessary parts for understanding.

Reference:
     
  • Lesson Plan developed by Carolyn Green, Educational Consultant for NASA's S'COOL Project, Last Updated: Sept 2009, by Preston Lewis (S'COOL Team)
  •  
  • For more information on this experiment visit the Cloud Cookery page.

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