Our Grade 4 students worked backwards from their theories about storms to hypothesize about the key parts of a storm:
- A cloud, which needs evaporated water.
- A water source, like a puddle.
- The sun to heat the puddle to cause the evaporation.
- The cloud is made when all the gas is gathered together.
- The atmosphere to keep the cloud from floating away.
To see if they could make a cloud, the students safely boiled water and caught the steam in a balloon. This was based on their theory that clouds are made from evaporated water.
They tried and tried, but could not make a cloud.
Elizabeth suggested that “Maybe we need something else?” and Stephanie pointed out that puddles and the ground are dirty so maybe “dirt was needed” to make a cloud.
Just to let you know, we were able to successfully make a cloud in a 2L bottle–it turns out all you need are a few microscopic particles–i.e. the smoke from a match! We are now looking at the bigger picture and exploring the role of atmosphere–specifically the troposphere in the creation of weather phenomena.
In the words of Ms. Frizzle, “Let’s take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”