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Make It Rain: Bottle Rainstorm

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 14, 2010

Warm air can hold a lot of water vapor. When warm moist air rises, it eventually reaches cold air high in the sky. As a result, the warm air begins to cool. Since cool air does not hold so much moisture as warm air, water vapor condenses into the tiny droplets of water that form clouds. Over time millions of miniscule cloud droplets fuse and become so heavy that they can no longer remain suspended in the air. These large droplets fall as rain. In this activity you will create rain in a bottle.

Materials

    Quart jar
    Small plate
    Small beaker containing about 150 ml of very hot (but not scalding) water
    Several ice cubes

Activity

  1. Carefully pour the hot water into the quart jar.
  2. Cover the jar with the small plate so the plate is facing upward.
  3. Wait a minute or two, then place the ice cubes on the plate.
  4. Observe the jar.

Follow-Up Questions

  1. What happened on the underside of the plate?
  2. Which parts of the experiment represent the following elements?
    • Warm, moist air rising through the atmosphere
    • Cold air high in the atmosphere
    • Rain

Answers

  1. Water condensed on the plate.
  2.  
    1. Hot water in the jar.
    2. Ice in the plate.
    3. Water drops falling from the plate.

Extension

Repeat this experiment, using cold water instead of hot water. Describe and explain your results.

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