Lessons in Condensation

Rainy season has arrived! Whether you are experiencing snow and rain in the North West or a sunny summer on the opposite hemisphere, condensation is a common occurrence that can turn into an educational lesson for your little one(s).

 

In the car or at home, windows fog and water drops form. In the bathroom after a long shower, mirrors get fogged. Use these teachable moments to talk about the water cycle and it’s importance to our entire planet. Let your kids know about water conservation, especially during droughts, when bathing, brushing teeth, or washing dishes and clothes. As the saying goes, “Waste not, want not!” The more we save, the more have in the long run!

Water is important for our survival and also for the survival of plants and animals. During rainy season, explore the outdoors and search for little critters soaking in the rain like Chester the Wise Old Frog and Bruce the Banana Slug. Some animals and plants need more water than others. Humans, for example, should drink around 2-3 liters of water a day, where as giraffes get most of their moisture from leaves, so they can go months without drinking water!

 

Teach your kiddos about the following terms so they become familiar with the water cycle! Try some of the activities to illustrate their meaning and give your child an opportunity to really understand this important ecological process.

1.  Evaporation is when the sun heats up water in rivers or lakes or the ocean and turns it into vapor or steam. The water vapor or steam leaves the river, lake or ocean and goes into the air, forming clouds.

Illustrate: Boil some water in a kettle so children can see the vapor rising!

 

2. Condensation is when water vapor in the air gets cold and changes back into liquid, forming clouds. Clouds are made up of tiny water molecules.

Illustrate: Use a window, mirror or any glass surface and breath on it. Your warm breath forms a foggy layer that is like a thin cloud on your mirror! Use your fingers to draw a smiley face 🙂

3.  Precipitation occurs when so much water has condensed that the air cannot hold it anymore. The water molecules start to bounce and shake (precipitate), making the cloud so heavy that the water falls back to the earth in the form of rain drop or rainfall. The water can also fall hail, sleet or snow depending on how cold it is.

Illustrate: Pour a glass of cold water on a hot day and watch what happens. Or if it’s still cold out, place a cup of warm water on the counter. Then put some ice on to a plate and place on top of the cup. Water will start to form on the outside of the glass and drip down the sides. That water didn’t somehow leak through the glass! It actually came from the air. Water vapor in the warm air turns back into liquid when it touches the cold glass. This is precipitation in action!

4.  Collection: When water falls back to earth as precipitation, it may fall back in the oceans, lakes or rivers or it may end up on land.  When it ends up on land, it will either soak into the earth and become part of the “ground water” that plants and animals use to drink or it may run over the soil and collect in the oceans, lakes or rivers where the cycle starts!

Illustrate: After a rainy day or snow fall, go outside with your kids and try to find evidence of water collection: puddles form, street gutters flow, and plants soak in the rain! Take a little trip and visit your local water reservoir to see where your town’s drinking water comes from. The more they see and experience, the more your children will understand!

What other ways can you illustrate the water cycle? Share with Chipper! We love hearing about your outdoor adventures and educational stories!

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