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SWBAT understand how clouds are formed and what they are made of.

Big Idea

By observing a cloud forming demonstration, students will make observations and inferences about the formation of clouds.


5 minutes

Teacher Tip: This lesson is intended for students to understand how clouds form in the atmosphere and their basic composition.  They will be observing a teacher led demonstration that involves the following materials: plastic bottle with a lid, matches, paper, small amount of water. This lesson addresses NGSS MS-ESS2-4 as students are exploring how Earth's water is cycled through the atmosphere through cloud formation. 


To begin the lesson, students will start by individually responding to the following prompt in their student notes sheet

ENGAGE: What process causes water vapor to change back into liquid? (condensation) 

After 3-4 minutes, I will ask students to share their responses with the class. 


5 minutes

The next part involves students discussing their prior knowledge with the students in their small groups.  They will be guided through the conversation using the questions/prompts in their notes sheets: 

EXPLORE: Answer the following questions with your small group members.

  1. What is a cloud made of?

  2. What do clouds cause?

  3. Are there different kinds of clouds?

Students will be asked to share their responses with the class, I will call on 1-2 groups. Each student is responsible for recording their group's responses in their notes sheet.  


10 minutes

To add to students' informational arsenal, I have them watch a video clip about and ask them to record their own notes, in response to the questions on their notes sheet: 

EXPLAIN: Watch the video and complete the sentences below.

  1. Clouds form when…

  2. Clouds can be made of…

After the video, I ask 1-2 students to share what they've taken away from the clip. 


15 minutes

After the video, I demonstrate the cloud model, but first read the responses questions on the notes sheet prior in order to preview what the children should be looking for during their observation of the demo. It helps students to remember this as they watch the demonstration if this is interactive - ask students to repeat back to you what they hear in the responses.

ELABORATE: Make a cloud in a jar.

  1. What do you observe is in the jar to start?

2. What happens when the bottle is squeezed?

3. What do we need to add to the bottle to form a cloud?

4. What happens when we add the smoke from the match?

5. What will happen when the cloud gets too full of liquid?

During the demo, students tend to forget to write down their observations, It is important to remind them that while watching, they also need to be thinking and writing, something scientists do very well. 

Making a video of the demonstration really helps here as well, because the demonstration can then be watched a few more times. This is one of several steps that make demonstrations meaningful. Some others are:

- Make sure to practice it ahead of time.

- Don't tell students what is going to happen. You want them to watch carefully.

- Is there a way to safely include a student or two in the demonstration?

- Make sure everyone can see. Kind of obvious, but always worth a second thought.


5 minutes

For the last task, students are to work individually to write a procedure for how a cloud forms.  This will be a step-by-step writing process for which I've provided them a word bank, given their writing difficulties. 

EVALUATE: Explain how a cloud is formed using words from the box.

Cloud Formation