Water Cycle

I used to sit in science class listening to the lesson about the water cycle and think, “Why can’t this be more fun to learn?” Sure, we could watch water evaporate from a beaker on the teacher’s desk, but that’s boring! What if we could see the water cycle in action?

This awesome experiment from Oobleck, Slime, & Dancing Spaghetti by Jennifer Williams helps budding scientists understand the water cycle by having them create their own. Goodbye boring movies and teacher demonstrations and hello awesome do-it-yourself experiments! There are only a few things you’re going to need to get started:

The Experiment & What You’ll Need:

Boiling water
Thick glass-canning jar
Small aluminum pie pan or jar lid
Ice cubes (best if crushed)

A note regarding safety: this experiment uses boiling water and glass. An adult must be present to boil water and assist with this experiment.

Before you begin ask your little scientist: “Why doesn’t the earth ever run out of water?” Explain that they will construct a working model of the water cycle to see how water moves from one step of the cycle to the next.

  1. Boil several cups of water to a temperature of 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the boiling water to stop “bubbling” before pouring into the glass jar. Cold glass will crack if you change the temperature quickly.
  2. While you wait, fill the jar lid or pie pan with crushed ice.
  3. Place the lid or pie pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  4. Fill ⅓ of the glass jar with boiling water. Be Careful: A weak jar might crack at this temperature.
  5. Place the pie pan or frozen, ice-filled lid over the jar’s mouth. If you use the lid, place it atop the jar upside down. Do not screw it on or dump the ice into the hot water.
  6. Darken the room and shine a flashlight through the backside of the jar.
  7. Observe the water vapor traveling to the top of the jar from the surface.
  8. After 4 minutes, lift up the pan or lid and observe the “rain drops” that are forming on the bottom of the pan.
  9. Replace the pan or lid onto the top of the jar. Wait 10 minutes until “raindrops” begin to fall from the bottom of the pan into the hot water.
  10. As the “rain” falls, you may notice a swirling cloud forming inside the jar. This is convection current transferring heat energy. That means you are seeing less dense, hot air rising as the cooler and denser air sinks toward the water’s surface. Convection currents are one cause of wind on our planet.

If you thought this experiment was fun, learn more about the water cycle in Anthony Yanez’s A Wild Ride on The Water Cycle: A Jake & Alice Adventure. Journey with water drops Jake and Alice as they evaporate, condense and precipitate their way through history and the wild ride that is the water cycle!

Bright Sky Press
Where Texas Meets Books. Science.