BrainStorms: Science with Scottlin – Cloud in a Jar

Science With Scottlin

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In the past, we have created thunderstorms in a jar, tornadoes in a jar, even lava lamps – well, we’ve been seeing a lot of clouds lately let’s make a cloud in a jar!

GRAB YOUR INGREDIENTS: a mason jar with a lid, hot water, hairspray, and ice.

NOTE: You’re going to need to perform the steps pretty quickly, so just be sure to have all of these things ready to go.

STEP 1: Fill the jar with water a little less than halfway.

NOTE: You’ll want to be careful with this step since the water is so hot and the hotter the water, the better this will turn out.

STEP 2: Spray in some hairspray and quickly place the lid on the jar upside down.

STEP 3: Add ice cubes onto the lid to make it cold and wait a minute or so for the cloud to form.

Science behind this experiment: Somedays you can go outside, look up, and not see a cloud in the sky, where on other days you can look up and see lots of clouds. Well, we have all different types like cumulus for example – these are my favorite. These look like little cotton balls in the sky. But, we also have stratus clouds. These aren’t as pretty since they turn the sky grey and make the day feel kind of gloomy. Now, if we get rain from these clouds, these are called nimbostratus. Another cloud type is cirrus. These are the high, thin, wispy clouds. A cool thing about these is that they’re so high up into the cold air, it’s actually ice crystals floating around. If you think back to when we did thunderstorms in a jar, Rebecca told us these were her favorite types of clouds – they’re called cumulonimbus.

Well, all of these cloud types do have something in common and that’s moisture. So the sun rises everyday, heats everything up and evaporation starts to happen. This is where water becomes vapor in the air. As the vapor rises into the atmosphere, it cools, and when it gets high enough it leads to condensation. It sticks to all these tiny particles in the atmosphere. These particles could be smoke, dust, or pollen just to name a few. So once enough of these are together – we get clouds!

So basically what we’ve done is we’ve recreated the environment outside. Inside the jar, water vapor is coming from the hot water. So where are the particles coming from? That’s where the hairspray came into play. As the water vapor rises and comes in contact with colder air from the ice, it begins to attach itself to these hairspray particles.

Whenever you watch this video, go outside and look up to the sky. Are there any clouds? Well if so, now you know the cloud types, you should be able to name what type of clouds you are seeing.

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