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What is Condensation for Kids

what is condensation

Cold glasses and bottles turn water in the air back into liquid water. Photo by Acdx, Wikipedia

In order to teach condensation to kids, it helps to understand it. Condensation is the process in which a gas turns into liquid. This is best explained to children by demonstrating how water in its gas form changes to its liquid form. This occurs when the gas comes in contact with cold temperatures. However, this is a complex concept for many kids to understand, especially younger children and is best explained by showing in addition to verbally explaining the process. By making it rain indoors, you can give a visual example of the condensation of water.

Start With Solids, Liquids, and Gas

Explain that water has three forms. It can be a solid, liquid, and gas. Talk about how heat turns liquid water into a gas, cooler temperatures turn it back into a liquid known as water, and freezing temperatures turn water into the solid form called ice. You can give kids ice to play with to watch it melt and put a bowl of water to check on to watch it freeze to give a more hands on experience with water as a solid, liquid, and gas.

The Condensation Demonstrations Step by Step

Set out a glass of water filled with ice. Set the glass on a piece of paper. Have the kids notice that the glass is dry on the outside. Leave the glass alone for now. You will come back to it later.

Put a glass lid in the freezer. Any glass lid will work. It just needs to be very cold for the experiment.

Boil water in a pot and watch the steam rise. This is the liquid water turning into gas going through the process known as evaporation. Explain that the gas is the steam and it is still water, but in a gas form. The heat from the stove has turned the liquid water into its gas form.

Put oven mitts on your hands. This will protect your hands from getting burned by the steam.

Remove the now cold glass lid from the freezer and hold it over the steam rising from the boiling pot of water at about 6 to 12 inches above the pot. Have the children watch and talk about what happens to the steam as it hits the lid. The cold temperature of the lid will turn the gas water into liquid water. This is condensation in action.

Tip the lid to make it “rain” inside. When the liquid water gets heavy it will fall off the lid and “rain.” This demonstrates how clouds develop rain.

Now go back to the glass. The outside of the glass and paper underneath should be wet from condensation. Have the kids try to guess why the outside of the glass is now wet before explaining it. What happened is when the water in the air touched the cold glass it turned from gas into a liquid on the outside of the glass—Condensation in action!

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