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Discovering Weather by Condensing Clouds

This article appeared in the March 24, 2017 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Discovering Weather by Condensing Clouds

Cumulus clouds over Mace Ranch Park. Photo by Lisa Justice.


By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise


Coming to Summer Science Camp at Explorit Science Center--two wonderful camps on weather and our changing climate! Get a taste of weather science at home with this fun and easy activity, then join us this summer for a whole week of meteorological mayhem!


You will need: water, ice, a small mason jar, a zipper lock bag large enough to cover the mouth of your jar and matches. You can also use some food coloring if you like.


Start by filling the mason jar about halfway with water and add a few drops of food coloring. Then fill the zipper lock bag with ice and seal it shut.


Now for the weather fun! Have an adult light a match and drop it into the water in the jar. Very quickly put the bag of ice on top of the jar and make sure that it is completely covering the opening.


What do you see happening inside the jar? The empty space between the surface of the water and the bag of ice is probably filling with something. Is it smoke from the match? Or is it something else?


It’s a cloud! You’ve just made a cloud in a jar! In the sky, clouds form when warm air rises and cools off. Cooler air can’t hold water as well as warmer air, so as the air cools, it loses water.


That water begins collecting around tiny grains of dust, one droplet at a time. When many of these droplets gather together they make a cloud.


In your jar, the match created the heat that made some of the water evaporate and begin to rise. But then the ice cooled the air and the evaporated water, causing a cloud to form!


The droplets are so small and light that they continue floating in the air to form clouds with other droplets. What do you think happens when too many of these droplets come together and become too heavy to keep floating? What could cause clouds to produce rain?



Explorit’s coming events:


●      Summer Science Camp registration is open now! Find all the details at

●      Save the date of Sunday, August 27 for Explorit’s annual end of summer Final Blast celebration, a full day of fun for the whole community!

●      Save your clean tin cans and toilet paper tubes for Explorit! We are almost out of one of our most popular Challenge Center building materials. You can help stock us up by saving your clean household items and bringing them to Explorit’s office at 3141 5th St. during our regular business hours, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

●      Explorit’s Exploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and every Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free. Come check out the new Nano Mini Exhibition!

●      Interested in helping out the community through board membership? Explorit is currently seeking individuals in the community to serve as members of our volunteer board. Please call or email for additional information on how to apply.

●      Interested in membership? Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up!

●      Birthdays are fun with science at Explorit! Choose Super Birthday Party topics to make this a special event! Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.


Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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