A hands-on experiment illustrates how clouds form. Students learn about different types of clouds.
clouds, weather, cirrus, cumulus, stratus
Ask students to identify things they might see in the sky. They might list things such as the sun, stars, the moon, rain, birds and clouds.
Ask students if they know what clouds are made of? Explain that clouds are made up of millions of tiny water droplets. Tell students that you are going to do a simple experiment to teach them how clouds form. Later, you will introduce them to the main types of clouds they might see in the sky.
This experiment will illustrate how clouds form. Explain to students that you will perform this experiment for the class because it involves very hot water.
After students have an opportunity to witness a cloud form, ask them why they think it happened? You might ask them What happens to water as it sits still? (Water evaporates) What happened as the evaporating water (water vapor) came in contact with the ice cubes? (ice cooled the water vapor inside the jar; the water vapor changed, or condensed, into water droplets/a cloud formed) How does this experiment help you to understand how clouds form in the sky? (water evaporates from land; as water vapor rises into the atmosphere, it cools; the water vapor condenses into water droplets/clouds form)
Different Types of Clouds
There are three main types of clouds.
You might show some pictures of the different types of clouds. The links below will serve as sources of good pictures of clouds.
Wonders of Weather: Cloud Types
Understanding Clouds and Fog
Have students monitor the clouds in the sky each day for the next week or two. Have them keep a chart. You might take digital photos of the clouds so that you have a record of them.
Clouds Galore: A Webquest
Play the Cloud Game. Have students write down their answers. Then click on the images to see the correct answers. How many clouds did students correctly identify?
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Originally published 11/17/2005
Last updated 12/18/2009