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Rain Clouds in Cups

Rain Clouds in Cups

January 23, 2020

We’re slowly inching out of our rainy days and into summer, so it’s the perfect time to examine how rain is formed. With this simple experiment, children and families will replicate rain clouds in a glass and learn about color mixing along the way.

Items Needed:

  • Glass vase or Mason jar
  • Food coloring (Liquid, not gel)
  • Shaving cream
  • Small containers (one for each color you are using)
  • Water
  • An eye dropper or syringe

Steps:

  1. Fill your small containers with water until they’re about ¾ full.
  2. Squirt a few drops of food coloring into each container. If using the standard palette, you should have 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 blue and 1 red, but you might have different colors.
  3. Fill the large glass vase or Mason jar ¾ full of water.
  4. Then, add shaving cream to the top of the water and fill the remaining space. It should look like a puffy cloud sitting on top of the water.
  5. Using the eye dropper, pull up some colored water of your choice and slowly drip it over the shaving cream in the large vase.
  6. Repeat this for each color, one at a time. Drip slowly or the colors will mix in the shaving cream.
  7. Watch as the colors saturate the shaving cream and start to “rain” into the water below.
  8. How many drops of each color did you use? How did the liquid move through the shaving cream? What new colors developed as the cloud “rained?”

That was awesome! But what does it all mean?

When water droplets evaporate and collect in a cloud, they will get heavier and heavier. Eventually, the water will become so heavy that it’s unable to float and will fall to the ground as rain to begin the cycle over again. In this experiment, the shaving cream acts as the cloud, and the water is the rain.