Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kid's Thunderstorm Science Activity

We had an interesting cloud pass over our neighborhood this afternoon. It seemed like a good time to pull out the thunderstorm activity, I had set aside, and watch The Magic School Bus Kicks Up A Storm (you can view the entire episode for free, here). Have I mentioned how much I love that show? And what teacher, homeschool, or otherwise, wouldn't love to have Miss Frizzle's fashion sense?

Our activity came from the Weather Wizkids, and dealt with convection (the process that causes the unstable, moisture laden, warm air, to rise through an approaching, cold front, producing a thunderstorm).

We started with a clear plastic, rectangular, storage box, about the size of a shoe box.

We filled it with warm water (actually, we started with warm water, and then redid the experiment with hot water, which we found worked better).

We dropped a blue tinted, ice cube, that I had on ready, in the freezer, into one end of the box.

On the other end, we added a few drops of red food coloring.

The cold, blue colored water, dropped instantly to the bottom, while the hot, red colored water rose to the top...

...very similarly to what happens before a thunderstorm.

For more on the causes of thunderstorms, and the different types of thunderstorms there are, check out this informative, and child friendly page from the National Center For Atmospheric Research.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Ticia said...

Okay, that is super cool. And that reminds me to go back to the other link and check out the plant episodes.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I agree - this is really cool. This is definitely one experiment that it's not too difficult to set up. Thanks so much for sharing so many fantastic science ideas.