A cloud in a jar? Yep! This is a fun weather science experiment anyone can do with five minutes and materials you already have sitting around the house!
Creating a cloud in a jar is a great way to wow your kids while pretending that you are as cool as Miss Frizzle (from Magic School Bus, yes? LOVE her!).
What You'll Need:
- A shatterproof jar with a lid (a mason jar works well for easy on and off with the lid, minus the ring)
- A few ice cubes
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water
- Aerosol spray (We used a disinfectant, but hairspray or any other type of aerosol will work. Just make sure it is something safe to spray in the house!)
- Heat water on the stove in a kettle or in the microwave. It does not need to be boiling, just hot.
- Pour the hot water into the jar so the jar is about 1/4 full.
- Put the lid on the jar and place several ice cubes on top of the lid. (You can make it less messy by putting the ice cubes in a sandwich bag.)
- After about a minute, lift the lid briefly and spritz a short burst of aerosol into the jar. Replace the lid immediately!
- Watch the cloud form, then lift the lid to let the cloud escape from the jar!
What's Happening (The Science Behind the Fun):
Heating water causes some of it to evaporate into its gas form.
This water vapor rises and is trapped inside the jar. When it reaches the lid with the ice, it starts to cool. Cooling water vapor causes it to condense, or turn back into its liquid form.
Adding the aerosol spray introduces tiny particles onto which the water vapor may condense, forming a cloud.
Guess what? This is exactly what happens in the atmosphere! Making a cloud is an easy way to teach your kids about the water cycle of evaporation and condensation.
And guess what else? I learned too! I don't think I truly understood this process myself until we did this experiment. Amazing! As an added bonus, it is super fun and easy. The kids wanted to do it over and over again.
Here's a video showing you how to do it yourself:
Jess Searcy, who loves doing science with her kids, is the publisher of Macaroni Kid South Birmingham, Ala.