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Rain Making Activity - The Water Cycle

 Rain Making Activity - The Water Cycle

We have kept roughly the same amount of water on Earth as solid ice, liquid rain and gaseous water vapor throughout time. It continually cycles and moves from the ocean, polar ice caps, rivers, lakes, wetlands, snow, underground aquifers and water vapor in the clouds. This is called the water cycle. (See water cycle details under Ecology or Weather.)


Put very simply, water on Earth in the ocean and other waterways is heated by the sun and changes to water vapor – it evaporates. It rises into the atmosphere where the air pressure is lower and the temperature is colder. The water vapor cools and forms back into very tiny water droplets. The water droplets form clouds. The clouds gather all the tiny water droplets together until they are big enough to fall as rain or snow. This is also called precipitation.
 
Scientists plan and carry out investigations in the field or laboratory. We are going to carry out an investigation here to make the same conditions exist as it does in the water cycle and cause rain to fall right here, as it would in nature.

Read more about the Water Cycle.

Materials:

  1. 2 pie pans
  2. Ice cubes
  3. An oven mitt
  4. Cold water
  5. An electric (plug in) teapot
  6. Help from an adult

 
Procedures:

  1. Fill the kettle with water and plug it in.
  2. Place an empty pie pan on the table in front of its spout.
  3. Add cold water and ice cubes to the other pie pan.
  4. When the teapot boils put on your oven mitt to protect your hand and hold the pie pan full of ice water up over the steam rising out of the teapot spout.
  5. The water vapor from the steaming pot will begin to collect on the bottom of the ice-chilled pie pan. It will cool and condense. Soon water droplets will begin to drip down into the bottom pie pan.
  6. You have created a rain shower!

 
Explanation: Heating the water in the teapot, mimics the sun heating water on Earth into rising water vapor. The pan of ice water is the colder atmosphere above. When the water vapor rises and hit the cold atmosphere (ice water pan), it turns back into water droplets (condenses) and falls as rain.
 

 Rain Making Activity - The Water Cycle

Recommended Books & Products

For more information about the Water Cycle with Activities for K-8: The Everything Kids Environment Book, Adams Media 2007

 Rain Making Activity - The Water Cycle

National Science Standard Addressed

NGSS: Appendix F – Science and Engineering Practices

Practice 3 - Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
K–2 Condensed Practices
Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to simple investigations, based on fair tests, which provide data to support explanations or design solutions.

3-5 Condensed Practices
Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to include investigations that control variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.

6–8 Condensed Practices
Planning and carrying out investigations in 6-8 builds on K-5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or solutions.

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