Rain in a Jar

rain in a jarSchool was cancelled today due to flooding in Houston and surrounding areas. So we entertained ourselves with a little fun and easy science experiment to explain rain falling from the clouds. The experiment was really quite mesmerizing and all you need is shaving cream, food coloring, and a jar of water. Check it out.

The best thing about doing this experiment with a 6 year old is that she busted out into song when it started “raining”.  Then promptly says, “Hey, let’s make lightening in jar!” and I say nervously, “That would be hard to do!”

Enjoy this easy experiment and stay safe Houston friends!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments, how to videos Tags: , , , ,
DIY: Wicked tornado

Tornados freak me out… ok truth be told lightening and rough weather freaks me out.  Here in Houston we’ve seen our fair share of bad weather in the last month.  Last week I saw lightening strike the Williams Tower in the Galleria while I was driving home with the kids.  Not cool…. but they thought it was amazing.

Regardless of my fears, I love discussing weather with the kids because we experience it everyday. I recently got the neatest gadget that creates a “tornado in a bottle”. Now that’s my kind of weather observation!

You can make this yourself with a tornado tube (found here), two empty 2 liter bottles, and some water.  You can throw in some glitter or food coloring to spice things up a bit!

The best thing about this experiment is once you set it up then your kiddos can do it over and over again with little help.  Now that’s my kind of science experiment!

Here is our tornado in action!

It is quite mesmerizing isn’t it? It made me feel like I was watching this again!


Official poster of the original Broadway production

So what is happening with this wicked tornado?

A real tornado starts its twisting action when warm air quickly rises and sucks the surrounding air upward.  Our wicked bottle tornado starts to twist when we swirl the bottle of water around in a circle.

The twisting causes a vortex to form, water starts to pour out of the hole between the two bottles, and air can pass between the lower bottle through the center of the vortex.

What a great way to see a tornado in action from the safety of your own kitchen! I hope you and your kids enjoy making your own wicked tornados!

Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments Tags: ,
How do the clouds make rain?

rainmaking1One rainy day on the way to school, we had this conversation:

Allie: “Mommy, how do the clouds make rain?”

Me: “Um, well (I fumbled) water evaporates and gravity makes it come down.”

(Why is it that the easiest questions can be the hardest ones to answer?)

Allie: “What is evaporates?  Can you turn on my music until we get to school?”

I felt like I had let my budding scientist down.  So after a little research, I decided I was going to show her how the clouds make rain.

The experiment I found explained the cycle of water using a stove top, a pan, ice, and a tea pot. Perfect! My favorite kind of experiment – no mess and big impact!  When I picked her up from school I told her we were going to make rain!  She was sold.

Question: How do the clouds make rain?


First, we were going to fill up a teapot with water and heat it to make steam. (I told her the tea pot was like the oceans and streams that are heated up by the sun.)

Second, we would fill up a smaller pan with ice and hold it over the steam. (The steam is like the clouds that would cool on the cold pan because it is cold above the clouds.)

Her guess: (This is when I asked Allie what she thought would happen.) She was convinced that it was going to rain inside our house!

What happened? (This is when I attempt to use science to explain the result to her – in her terms.)

It did rain in our house that day – just on the stove of course! After a few minutes the steam cooled, collected on the cold pan, and started dripping “rain” down.  I explained that this is how water goes around and around on earth. It’s called the water cycle.

We ended up making a little song up about the water cycle. It goes a little something like this:

The sun heats up the ocean,

The steam goes in the sky,

The steam makes clouds and the rain comes down.

The sun heats up the ocean,

The steam goes in the sky,

The steam makes clouds and the rain comes down.

Seriously, I think the water cycle song impressed her more than the experiment because I was waving my arms around in circles and jumping up and down. The things I do to help my daughter love science!


Categories: 3 ingredient experiments, 5 minute experiments, lovely conversations Tags: , , ,