WEATHER & CLIMATE

Week #1-Instantly Freezing Water

Today’s Lesson: To demonstrate the concept of super cooled water and freezing point depression, we used sale and ice to rapidly cool our own bottle of water.  Try our at home experiment to see how we grew our own ice crystals!

Home: Place a bottle of purified water in the freezer for about 2.5 hours.  Set a timer, but do not open the freezer during this time.  Be very careful not to disturb the bottle of water, remove the bottle from the freezer after the timer has ended.  If you are able to remove the bottle from the freezer without shaking it, you will now have a bottle of super cooled water that has no nucleation point. Next, gently tap the bottle against your countertop or table.  This will create a nucleation point in the bottle, causing the super cooled molecules to snap together, forming a solid. Try the same experiment with a soda.  Does soda freeze at the same rate or temperature as the water?

The Science Involved:  When water freezes, the molecules come together in a very orderly way and form a crystalline structure. Because of this, water molecules as ice have less energy than water molecules as liquid. That means to go from liquid water to solid water, the molecules have to lose heat energy. In other words, as supercooled water freezes when you tap it or open it, it also warms up the rest of the water.

Week #2-Make Your Own Cloud!

Today’s Lesson: We used air pressure and moisture to create our own cloud!  Next, we discussed the different types of clouds and created a Cloud ID Window Card to help us identify the clouds outside.

At Home:  Go outside with your little meteorologist so that they can demonstrate the Cloud ID Window.  See if you can predict the weather based on the clouds you see!

The Science Involved: Clouds are collections of tiny water droplets.  They are typically white because of the sun’s reflection.  Dark clouds often indicate severe weather, including thunderstorms, hail or even tornados.  All clouds move with the wind patterns.  The Jet Stream can push high cirrus clouds up to 100mph.  Cumulonimbus clouds are the clouds of thunderstorms.

Week #3-Model Tornados

Today’s Lesson:  Today, we created and observed model tornados.  We discussed tornado preparedness and the factors that help to develop these weather patterns.

At Home:  Have your student share their tornado preparedness sheet with you.  Together, make a family plan for severe weather.  Also, your student can create their own rain model at home.  First, place very warm water inside a clear drinking glass.  Next, cover the glass with plastic wrap and secure it using a rubber band.  Within in minutes, moisture will gather on the plastic wrap because of the rising warm air.  Next, put your glass in the refrigerator for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Then, place the cup on the counter and watch the water droplets fall from the plastic back into the cup.  This is how rain is made!

The Science Involved:  The swirling action of the water in the tornado model creates a vortex. In a real tornado, rising hot air collides with a cold air front to cause the air molecules to move in a circular motion.  When a thunderstorm is developing, changes in wind directions and speed combined with growing wind height can create an invisible spinning effect in the lower parts of the atmosphere.  These rising winds inside a thunderstorm can cause updrafts and tilt the rotating wind into a vertical pattern.  This area of rotation can extend throughout the storm.  These areas of rotation are where tornados are most likely to develop.

Week #4-Wind Socks

Today’s Lesson: Today we learned about the Japanese Koinobori tradition of building Wind Socks.  We created our own Wind Sock in a similar style and discussed how they traditionally used.

At Home: Together, you and your little meteorologist can create a closed ended wind sock using a spare sock and wire coat hanger.  Untwist the hanger and cut a piece that is the size of the open end of the sock when it is stretched open.  The wire will hold the wind sock open at one end.  You can tape or staple the sock in place.  Now you are ready to hang your wind sock and observe the wind!

The Science Involved: Wind direction is the opposite of the direction in which the windsock is pointing (note that wind directions are conventionally specified as being the compass point from which the wind originates; so a windsock pointing due north indicates a southerly wind). Wind speed is indicated by the windsock’s angle relative to the mounting pole; in low winds, the windsock droops; in high winds it flies horizontally.

Week #5-Exciting Lightning!

Today’s Lesson:  We created a devise to demonstrate how lightening works using static electricity.  We made our own lightning bolt!

At Home:  Discuss Lightening Safety with your family.  The Lightning Safety Rule The key to a lightning safety plan of action is knowing the answer to the following two questions: 1. How far away am I (or the group who I am responsible for) from a safe location? 2. How long will it take me (and/or my group) to get to the safe location? These questions need to be answered before lightning storms threaten.  Knowing the answer to the above questions will greatly increase your chances of not becoming a lightning strike victim. How Much Time do I Need to Find a Safe Location? It is recommended that you should begin to seek shelter if the time between the lightning flash and the rumble of thunder is 30 seconds or less. You should not resume activities until 30 minutes after the last audible thunder. The combination of these guidelines is known as the 30/30 Lightning Rule.

The Science Involved:  It’s all about static electricity. Lightning happens when the negative charges, which are called electrons, in the bottom of the cloud or in this experiment your finger are attracted to the positive charges, which are called protons, in the ground or in this experiment the aluminum pie pan. The resulting spark is like a mini lightning bolt!

Week #6-The Science of Rainbows

Today’s Lesson: We used an optical illusion to create a rainbow on a really fun toy!

At Home: Help your scientist create a rainbow.  Fill a glass, a coffee pot works great for this, with water.  Place the glass on the floor near a blank wall.  Place a flashlight right up against the glass facing the blank wall.  Turn the flash light on.  You should see a pattern on the wall.  Play around the with flashlight so you see the familiar colors of the rainbow.

The Science Involved:  With our Rainbow Wheel, the individual colors on the wheel are not mixing. The color mixing that happens is due to the speed at which the wheel is spinning as the string twists. The colors are spinning at such a rate that your brain is unable to process them as the individual colors that are on the wheel. Instead, your brain takes a shortcut and creates the secondary colors.