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Four of the best family autumn activities - whatever the weather

Autumn's erratic outlook allows your child’s creativity to run wild

Posted: 24 September 2013
by Fiona McKim

 4 of 5 

Cloud factory

It only takes a minute or so to demonstrate the conditions that cause clouds to form. Here is a quick and easy experiment that does just that. 

You will need
■ Large, clear plastic bottle
■ Water
■ Matches

1 Add a bit of water to the  plastic bottle, then put the lid on and shake vigorously. Pour out the remaining water.

2 Strike a match and blow it out so that it smokes. Hold the match in the opening of the bottle for a moment so that a small amount of smoke is collected in the bottle.

3 Replace the cap. Quickly squeeze and release the bottle ten to 20 times. Then squeeze the bottle as hard as you can and hold it for a long moment.

4 Release the pressure to see a cloudy mist – your “cloud” – appear inside the bottle.

This experiment works as it mimics the conditions in which clouds form. When moist air rises and then cools, the moisture condenses onto tiny airborne particles, such as dust, smoke, or salt, creating clouds. By adding water to the bottle and shaking it, you introduce water vapour to the air inside. By collecting smoke, you add particles onto which the vapour can condense.

By squeezing and holding the bottle, you increase the air pressure and temperature within it. When you release your grip, the pressure and temperature fall again, causing the vapour to condense onto the tiny particles of smoke.           

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Five of the best outdoor family activities for autumn
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The best autumn family activities, by author Amanda Soule


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