Grade Levels: 3 - 6

  • Students will use their observation skills to draw conclusions.
  • Students will learn about the water cycle, condensation, and evaporation.
  • Materials
  • Four Identical drinking glasses
  • Ice water
  • A Refrigerator and freezer
  • Journal
  • Procedure
    1. Start with a mini lesson about water and its many forms. Here is some basic information:

      Water is constantly being recycled in the water cycle, through evaporation and condensation. You have to understand that water comes in different forms, or states of matter. There's liquid water, solid water (ice), and water as a gas (water vapor).

      Here's how it works:

      Let's say you're painting with watercolors. The paint is wet when you brush it onto the paper, but later it dries. Why? The water molecules in the paint escaped into the air. (They evaporated.) These water molecules floating in the air are called water vapor. You can't see them, but they are there. When the water molecules in the paint escape into the air, only the color remains on the paper.

      What happens next? Well, when warm air containing water vapor hits something cool, the water molecules turn into a liquid. (They condense.) That's why drops of water collect on the outside of a cool glass. The cool air close to the glass causes water molecules in the air to slow down and condense against the side of the glass.

      The back and forth process of evaporation and condensation is called the water cycle, and it is how the earth recycles water. When the sun warms the earth, water evaporates into the air. As the water vapor rises and meets cooler air, it condenses back into water again, forming clouds and rain which falls to the surface of the earth.

    Instructions for the Project:

    2. Fill one of the glasses with the ice water and set it on a table. Wait briefly.

    3. Feel the outside of the glass. How did it get wet? Where did the water come from? Is it necessary for the glass to be filled with water for moisture to form on the outside? Write your answers in your journal.

    4. Set one of the empty glasses on a table as a control. Place a second empty glass in the refrigerator, and the third in the freezer.

    5. After about 10 minutes, remove the glasses from the refrigerator and freezer. Line up the three glasses on the table and record your observations in your journal.

    Brought to you by
    Science Court
    Tom Snyder Productions

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