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Blog

Cloud in a Bottle

7/27/17

Cloud in a Bottle

By Science Educators

Our newest traveling exhibition – Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters – has provided us the perfect opportunity to take a look at the incredible, and somewhat terrifying, world of natural disasters. This exciting activity provides the perfect opportunity for your little scientist to learn a little more about how air pressure and temperature play into the formation of clouds.

The Basics

How are Clouds Formed?

Water molecules condense around dust and particles in atmosphere. As more molecules gather around these particles vapor forms, and then clouds.

Pressure and Temperature

Increasing pressure raises the temperature of the water inside the bottle. When pressure rapidly escapes, the water cools and turns into a cloud with the help of the particulate in the air.

Now that you know the basics… let’s make a cloud!

Materials

  • Foot Pump or Bicycle Pump
  • Rubber Stopper
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Plastic 1-Liter Bottle

Activity

  1. Pour some rubbing alcohol into the plastic bottle, just enough to cover the bottom, and swirl it around to coat the bottom sides of the bottle.
  2. Attach your rubber stopper to the pump, insert the stopper into the top of the bottle, and give it a few pumps (suggested 5-8).
  3. Quickly remove the stopper and watch the cloud form in front of your eyes!

Want to watch the cloud disappear? Insert the stopper into the bottle again and give it another few pumps.

Questions to Consider

  • What happens when you use more pumps to create your cloud?
  • What happens if you only do a few pumps?
  • Do you know what kind of clouds are in the sky?
  • Are there man-made clouds in our skies?
  • Are there planets in our solar system that also have clouds?

Further Exploration

  • Have your little scientist start a cloud journal, sketching and labeling the clouds they observe over the course of the day.
  • Explore the different kinds of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet and hail) to discover what makes each of these forms possible.
  • Spend a day exploring the Nature Unleashed exhibition to learn more about tornadoes and other incredible natural phenomenon. Open through October 29, 2017.

– ASC Science Educators

Cloud in a bottle photo from Steve Spangler Science.

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