Simple Science: Rain Clouds in a Jar

We were inspired by this simple science activity of making clouds in jars so we made our own. This one’s a real winner – it’s really easy to do, no fancy equipment required, and the kids have a real blast with it.

What you will need:

  • a transparent jar
  • plain water
  • shaving cream
  • coloured water (which we made with food dye and water) – you only need one colour but we thought it was more fun with more colours
  • eye droppers (or you can use those syringe dispensers that you use to measure out how much medicine to give your child when he’s sick)

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What to do:

  • Half fill the transparent jar with water
  • Squirt a layer of shaving cream on top of the water
  • Use the eye dropper to add coloured water over the shaving cream

Here’s the scientific explanation:

The shaving cream is made up of a few chemicals that when sprayed out of the can, will evaporate, leaving millions of bubbles inside. This causes the shaving cream to be lighter than water; thus, it floats on top of the container. When you squirt water from the pipette on top of the shaving cream, you’re essentially filling up the shaving cream bubbles with water. Once enough water is inside, the shaving cream cannot support it. The colored water will sink through the shaving cream, pulling some of it down with it. The food coloring is used so that you can see this water as it falls downwards.

In real rain, the water droplets in the atmosphere will sometimes form around particles of dust and debris on nucleation sites (these are little holes/crevices that help water and other things attach to). When enough water gets together, they form clouds. When fronts come in, the change of temperature can lower how much water our atmosphere can hold. The increased amount of water will be too heavy to stay aloft and will start to pour.

Watch the video of how it’s done:

Related:

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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