1. Topic-
Earth Structures, Processes, and Cycles: Cloud Formation

PA STANDARDS:

3.3.4A4: Recognize Earth's different water sources. Describe phase changes in the form of water on Earth.

3.3.4A5: Describe basic weather elements. Identify weather patterns over time.
 
2. Content-
In this lesson students will learn about cloud formation and gain an understanding of how air and water affect the process.
 
3. Goals: Aims/Outcomes-
Through an in class experiment students will understand and be able to explain that sunlight causes water to evaporate into the atmosphere. This air containing the water vapor is heated at the surface of the earth and rises. As it rises, it cools and the water vapor condenses on to some form of matter (in the case of our experiment smoke) to form clouds.
 
4. Objectives-
1.Understand what a cloud is

2.Explain the process of a cloud forming

3.Analyze how a cloud is formed based on different environmental factors (sunlight, hot and cold air)

4.Describe elements of a cloud

5. Understand the different phases of water and air on Earth
 
5. Materials and Aids-
General Materials:
-Projector
-Computers with Internet
-Group observation logs
-Individual student observation journals
-Poster board
-Pens, pencils, markers, crayons

Experiment Materials:
- 5 large jar
- 5 a plastic bag of ice that will fit over the jar opening
- a pitcher of warm water
- 5 sheet of black paper
- 2-3 flashlights
- matches
 
6. Procedures/Methods-

A. Introduction-

Start by projecting a live satellite image of cloud cover over the location of the school. In this case PA. I plan to use NASA's Earth Science website.

Ask students as a whole class if they can describe what they see. Does current view on the satellite reflect what the weather is that day? Allow students to look out the window to compare.

Ask students based on observations on the satellite and what they already know, what they think clouds are made of and how do they think they are formed. Collect answers and keep the list projected for students to reference and return to later.
 

B. Development-

Let students know they are going to be creating clouds today in the classroom.

Students need to break up into small groups of 3 or 4. Hand out experiment instructions. Ask students to take turns having one student read the instructions, one student actually doing the experiment, and one or two students making observations for each step. Each group should have a group observation log.
 

C. Practice-

Students in their groups are going to now perform the experiment. Each group is to take out the jar and have one of the students tape the black piece of paper onto one side of the jar. Ask another student to pour the warm water into the jar until it is one third full. Students are to then ask the teacher to come over and light a match and hold it in the jar for a few seconds and then drop it in. At this point, have a student quickly cover the jar with the bag of ice. Have another student shine the flashlight on the jar while they record their observations.
 

D. Independent Practice-

At the end of the experiment students are expected to write their observations of the overall experiment and reflections in their individual journal logs. Students should answer the following questions on their own:
- What did you see in the jar?
- Where did the cloud come from?
- How did the warm water effect the cloud formation?
- What did the ice cubes do to help the clouds form?
- What role did the match and its smoke play in the cloud formation?
- Now what would you tell me a cloud is made of?
 

E. Accommodations (Differentiated Instruction)-

Gifted Students: Ask students to investigate how this process affects the type of cloud formed. Students can pick either high level, mid level, or low level clouds and show this process by cloud type either on a hand drawn poster or through a computer application like PowerPoint.

Students performing below average or with a learning disability: Watch the video on YouTube "˜How Clouds are Formed' or use other multimedia tools as a resource to help the assignment of drawing this process. Students with difficulty writing or drawing can explain process orally to teacher instead of drawing it.
 

F. Checking for understanding-

Teacher to rotate around groups as students are conducting experiments and answer any questions that come up. Also review group observation logs.

Ask students to also hand in their personal journal logs with reflections and answers to original class questions. Review answers to assess understanding of the experiment and application to the actual formation of clouds.
 

G. Closure-

Go back to the original questions at the beginning of class: What are clouds made of and how they are formed?

Have one student from each group orally give their groups response. Add the student's answers to the original list and as a class compare students answers from the beginning of the experiment to the end.
 
7. Evaluation-
As an assignment students are to use what they learned through the experiment to create a visual, either on poster board or on the computer, showing how clouds are formed. The visual will be graded with a rubric that will be shared with students. Rubric components include:

- Showing a clear understanding of cloud formation process
- Neatness and clarity of visual
- All key words and concepts are represented on visual (sunlight, water source, atmosphere, evaporation, heating and cooling, matter in the air, and water vapor)
 
8. Teacher Reflection-
Were the students able to conduct the experiment with little assistance?

Were the students able to connect the experiment to actual cloud formation?

Was there enough time to complete the experiment and reflections in one class period or should we allow extra time for reflections?

Were accommodations helpful or did there need to be completely different activities for some students?
 

This Lesson Plan is available at (www.teacherjet.com)