Hooked on science: Create a cloud in a bottle

Friday, November 16, 2007

We see them in the Southeast Missouri sky all the time, but have you ever made your own cloud? Here's your chance, and all you need are a few things from around the house.

Ingredients

* 2-liter bottle

* matches

* water

Instructions

STEP 1: Add a small amount of warm tap water to the 2-liter bottle.

STEP 2: With an adult present, light a match, blow it out and then place the match into the bottle. Quickly screw the cap onto the bottle.

STEP 3: Using your hands, squeeze the sides of the bottle about six times.

STEP 4: Squeeze the bottle one more time, but this time don't let go for a few seconds. Look closely at the bottle and then let go.

Explanation

You just created an atmosphere perfect for cloud development. The water vapor inside the bottle attached to the smoke particles produced by the match. When you squeezed the bottle you increased the air pressure. When you let go you decreased the air pressure, which cooled the air and created the cloud in your bottle.

Jason Lindsey is a Science Outreach Educator for the Bootheel Youth Museum. Check out his science blog "Hooked On Science" at jasonthescienceguysblog.blogspot.com for webcasts and experiments that might get you hooked on science. Feel free to send him your science questions at jlindsey@bootheelyouthmuseum.org. More science experiments can be found at www.semissourian.com.

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