Creating Condensation
activity exercisedemonstrationsuggested grade levels: 6- 8
view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

When air is cooled it cannot hold as much moisture as when the air is warm. The moisture in the air is released in the form of droplets, called condensation. This process is similar to what happens when air cools forming dew on cold surfaces. Condensation is also what happens when clouds cool and form rain or snow. Condensation can be observed using the following activity.

1. Students will become exposed to the Digital Atlas of Idaho.
2. Students will understand why condensation occurs.

Pitcher of very cold water Tray of ice cubes

Use the climatology section of the Digital Atlas of Idaho. To get there: Click on Atlas Home, Climatology, then on Cloud Imaging. This site of the digital atlas would serve as an excellent review before doing this demonstration for the class. These pages will describe cloud formation, condensation, evaporation, and relative humidity. These concepts are very important for students to understand when talking about cloud formation.

Have discussion on: (see link above)
   1. Cloud formation
   2. Condensation
   3. Evaporation
   4. Relationship of relative humidity with temperature

Fill the pitcher with cold water and ice cubes. Place the pitcher of ice water in a warm room. Observe what happens on the outside of the pitcher.

Questions for discussion:
   1. Where does this water come from?
   2. Would covering the pitcher prove that the droplets on the outside did not come from within the container?
   3. Why do cold water pipes drip in the summer?
   4. Would the amount of moisture that accumulates depend upon the amount of humidity on a particular day?
   5. What happens when one blows hot air on a cold windowpane?
   6. What do you think this condensation process has to do with rain?

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.
Cloud Imaging

Related Lesson Topics:
Climatology: Climatology

Lesson plan by Dr. Helen Challand and Elizabeth Brandt with permission from Science Activities from A to Z.
Illustrations by Herb Rudd, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: