What Makes Thunderstorms? See Convection
In this class lab activity, students will create convection currents in a plastic container that illustrates how the movement of warm and cold air in the atmosphere creates thunderstorms.
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Weather, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science
Description and Teaching Materials
Colored illustrations, instructions, and opportunities for further study are available at http://eo.ucar.edu/webweather/tornact2.html.
-One clear plastic container about the size of a shoebox
-Red food coloring
-Ice cubes made with water dyed with blue food coloring
1.Fill the plastic container 2/3 full of room temperature water.
2. Let the water sit for 30 seconds or until it is completely still.
3. Place a blue ice cube at one end of the plastic container.
4. Add two drops of red food coloring to the water at the opposite end of the plastic container. Be careful not to disturb the water.
5. Observe where the red and blue food coloring goes.
6.Using the red and blue pencils to draw what you see happening in journals.
Where did the red go?
How about the blue?
Water is flowing from one position to another; heat is being transferred; convection is occurring in the container! The cold, blue water sinks, while the warmer, red water rises. The red water stays higher than the blue.
Teaching Notes and Tips
evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection.