Investigation Sequence



Written by:

Tina McMillan and Susan Riffey                 Date


Focus Questions

What causes weather?


Content: Earth, Physical, & Life

Evaporation, clouds, condensation, and rain are all weather related.

Cross cutting concepts


Science Practice


Personal, Social, Technology, Nature of Science, History


Background information

Evaporation is the process of changing water into vapor and is one of the processes that help create the water cycle.
Also included in the water cycle are clouds and rain. Rain is formed when tiny dropplets of water join together, become heavier and fall to the ground. Clouds are created by water vapor and consist of three main different types cirrus, cumulus, and stratus. Weather is effected by all these aspects of the water cycle.

Activity Sequence

1. Evaporation
2. Make clouds
3. Shape of clouds
4. Condensation
5. Precipitation
6. Rain Game
7. Hot air and cold ai

Activity Descriptions

Activity 1
Evaporation is a part of the water cycle when the water is heated and rises into the sky.
Styrofoam plates, orange, purple, and black crayons, water
1. Ask students what they know about evaporation and how it relates to the water cycle
2. Activity done on a dry day
3. Each pair of students make a puddle of water on their plate
4. Use a purple crayon to draw around the puddle of water
5. Students put plates into different areas around the room
6. Let plates sit for an hour
7. Students make predictions about what will happen to the water
8. After the hour students use an orange crayon to draw around the puddle of water
9. Groups compare the puddles
10. Leave plates in the same spot for another hour
11. Compare first predictions and make new predictions/discussion
12. Recheck after another hour and draw a black circle around the puddle
13. Discussion about evaporation
14. Ask students what they learned about evaporation.

Activity 2
Making Clouds
Clouds are formed from water vapor
2-Liter plastic pop bottle, warm water
1. Ask students what they think a cloud is made of
2. Fill the bottle three-fourths full of very warm water
3. Quickly cap the bottle
4. Gently squeeze and release the bottle
5. Look closely inside the bottle, you should see a cloud
6. Squeeze the bottle again
7. Observe
8. To help see the cloud you may want to use a flashlight or dust particles
9. Ask students what they learned about how clouds are formed
10. Ask students how the water formed on the outside of the glass.

Activity 3
Shape of clouds
There are three major types of clouds
Cotton balls, dryer lint or gray flannel, glue, 11"x18" sheet of tagboard, a pencil, crayons, markers, white paint, paintbrushes, glitter, the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, other fiction and nonfiction books about clouds, a stapler.
1. Ask students what they see when they look at the clouds. Do they see any difference in their form
2. Group discussion about clouds
3. Use a pencil to divide the tagboard into six sections.
4. The three top sections of the tagboard will be used to simulate the three major types of clouds using the following directions
5. Cirrus clouds are high, white clouds with a feathery appearance. To create this type of cloud, paint white streaks at the very top of your paper and sprinkle glitter on the paint while it is still wet. Ask students what they think the glitter represents(the ice that may be present on those clouds)
6. Cumulus clouds are puffy, white, low clouds with flat bottoms. In the second top box, glue cotton balls of various sizes approximately 1/3 of the way down the paper.
7. Stratus clouds are wide, often gray, and low clouds that can drip snow flurries and drizzle. Glue dryer lint or gray flannel across the top of the third top box covering the length of the box.
8. Discussion on what type of weather each cloud brings
9. Underneath each cloud picture students will draw pictures of what the weather looks like when these clouds are present and what they do in this type of weather.
10. Read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and have students write about what they wish it would rain and draw what their cloud would look like.
11. Ask students to identify and draw the different cloud forms
12. Take students outside or have them observe on their own the different types of clouds and when they saw them. Also have them include what kind of weather the clouds were discovered in.

Activity 4
Condensation occurs when water is heated or cooled
Source of water, 2 beakers equal size, ice cubes, stir stick, thermometer, clock with a second hand
1. Ask students if they know what is on the outside of a cold glass of water
2. Fill each beaker with equal amounts of water. Leave enough room to add ice
3. Record temperature of water
4. Predict what will happen when ice is added
5. Add one ice cube to one of the beakers and stir
6. Continue to add ice to the one beaker and stir until moisture appears on the outside of the beaker
7. Record the amount of time required and the temperature of the ice water
8. Ask observation questions such as why does moisture appear on one beaker and not on the other? Or where did the moisture come from?
9. Ask students what they learned about condensation and what causes water to form on the outside of the glass from the beginning of the experiment.
10. Ask students where else they can see condensation.

Activity 5
Water can be a liquid or a solid and can be made to go back and forth from one form to the other
Hot pot, glass bowl with ice, pie tin,
1. Ask students to explain the different forms of water and give examples
2. Boil water in a hot pot. Only the teacher will handle the water and the pot. Make sure students are a safe distance away from the water.
3. Gather students around the hot pot and ice bowl
4. Explain to students that you are going to hold the pot of ice water over the boiling water. Predict what will happen to the bowl of ice, to the steam, and to the bottom of the bowl
5. Teacher holds bowl of ice over the steam
6. Place a pie tin so that the water dripping from the bottom of the bowl will collect in the tin
7. Class observes and shares what they observe happening.
8. Discussion on the relationship to activity and rain and clouds
9. Ask students what they learned about the different forms of water and give examples and why this knowledge is important to them.

Activity 6
The Rain Game
Rain falls when small droplets of water join together and fall to the ground
Assorted colored construction paper, Rope or hula hoop
1. Ask students about precipitation and what it is
2. Teacher prepares room or outside area by tapping assorted pieces of construction paper at random on the ground. Each separate color has a match somewhere. Tape as many pieces of paper as there are students
3. Students each stand on a piece of construction paper with their arms outstretched
4. Students are told that they are pretending to be a small cloud drop being blown about by the wind
5. Small discussion on evaporation
6. When teacher says "go" students move from one piece of paper to the other of the same color, keeping their arms outstretched
7. Each time one student touches another, they grab hands and continue to the color they were originally heading to
8. If they are going to two different colors then they go to the closest color and that is the new group color
9. When a drop has five students in it they have formed a raindrop and they should go to the puddle area that is roped off by a rope or a hula hoop
10. If there are more than five in a group the group must split in half and continue playing
11. Ask how this activity relates to precipitation

Activity 7
Hot air and cold air
Hot air rises and cold air falls
Hot and cold water, food coloring, baby food jars, eye droppers, film canisters, paper
1. Ask students if they can explain differences of hot and cold water other than just the temperature
2. Each group should have two baby food jars and two film canisters, one of each is filled _ of the way full with hot water and one of cold water
3. Add five drops of food coloring to one of the film canisters with cold water
4. Add five drops of food coloring to the other warm water film canister
5. Use the eye dropper to drop drops of the colored hot and cold water into the baby food jars of hot and cold water
6. Observe and ask students how hot and cold water differ and how particles move through each one.
7. Ask students how they think this information relates to weather. Ask students how this relates to their lives outside of school.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes