How rain drops are formed

A simple, home-made experiment showing rain drop formation ©Sciengist

A simple, home-made experiment showing rain drop formation ©Sciengist

Explain to children how rain drops are formed with a simple home-made experiment!

Inspire children to ask questions about rain drop formation!

It may be a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon or the beginning of school holidays, and you may notice that your kids are either increasingly demanding or are getting easily bored. In my case, I also have to constantly find avenues to keep them away from the TV.

What better way to entertain and engage them than to use a small science experiment?

A simple demonstration will allow them to further explore and understand natural processes easily.

I chose to show my daughters how rain falls!

A simple and effective method to explain children how rain is formed.

It all started with watering our seedlings in our pots a few days ago. When the girls started wasting too much water, I tried to give them a bigger picture of how precious water is. However, it was a little too much for their minds to ponder. So I thought I should form the basics, perhaps with rain.

Materials:

  • Glass jar
  • Ice blocks
  • Boiling water
  • A plate

Method:

Fill the glass jar from the kettle until about 1/3rd full and place a plate full of ice blocks on the top.

Within a few minutes my daughters got excited to see the formation of water droplets on the walls of the jar and also drops from the top - underneath the plate. Just when I thought their excitement was about to fade, they asked questions!

Inquisitive minds ask questions – science is born!

I was thrilled to see my daughters ask questions. Questions turn a simple demonstration into an act of science.

How is a raindrop formed?

Are they coming through the plate from the ice above?

And then they started counting the number of drops falling from underneath the plate.

So what was the process we were witnessing?

The cycle of water involves several steps (Image: OTC)

The cycle of water involves several steps (Image: OTC)

 

Firstly, by heating up the water, we created vapour and this process is called ‘evaporation’. Naturally this process is created by the sun warming up the ground water.

 

Secondly, as the water vapour rises in the glass jar and touches the cold plate with ice on top, water droplets are formed. This process is called ‘condensation’ which is similar to cloud formation in the cooler atmosphere.

 

Lastly, when the water droplets come together and become heavier, they start falling down the jar either down the sides or dripping from underneath the plate! This process is called ‘precipitation’ or rain fall.

 

This whole process requires wind to transport the vapour up into the atmosphere for the rain drops or ice crystals (hail) to form.

After the experiment and listening to the process I explained, my girl's eyes lit up, understandably so.

A simple experiment of heating water to show evaporation and then by cooling, converting vapour to water to show condensation. To witness precipitation or water fall in a glass jar explains the process of rain to children in an effective way.

I hopefully answered my daughter's questions.

Now, I can talk to them about things such as what happens if the atmosphere gets too hot or what happens if there is too little ground water, and the importance of water reserves in evaporation or even transpiration. They will hopefully enjoy watering our pot plants with a bit of knowledge from now on. I have to find ways to entertain them…and these small science experiments are fun for us all!

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