Water – the magic molecule – the one that allows life to exist on our planet.
Our objective is to better understand the issue of water quantity and quality in Florida, but we begin with understanding the molecule and how it works.
In Lesson 1 we looked at water’s polarity – and we have a homework assignment that we began on Monday Mar 30. If you did not get that one, we are asking everyone to find a small glass jar or cup – fill it 75% with water – place an inorganic substance (like a small rock, sand, or salt) in one. Repeat this with as many different inorganic substances you want but also include at least one organic substance (a leaf, a seed, a piece of wood), and at least one man made objective (a nail, a piece of plastic, something like that). Again, you can have as many substances as you have glass jars for. Place them somewhere out of the way and we will begin checking on them next Wednesday. There is a link to polarity in this exercise.
For Lesson 2 – we are going to look at how water moves around the planet – we are going to look at the water cycle.
It is Wednesday, April 1, and it is 50°F outside in Pensacola this morning (crazy). A cold front came through yesterday and the water cycle has a connection to what is going on. So, we will take some time to discuss this as well.
It was supposed to rain beginning at 6:00 AM yesterday morning – it did not, which is another lesson in itself – but we did eventually get some around noon. It formed a puddle in front of our house.
Where did that water come from?
Most of us know that rain comes from the clouds – but what are clouds?
Why does the water fall from them sometimes and not at others?
And where did that water in the clouds come from?
Now check out the second photo… that was taken this morning (the day after the rain)
Where did the water go?
Let’s do an activity to better understand the answers to these questions…
Grab a plastic bowl and a cup from your kitchen – I got three…
In the photo below I have two bowls and one cup.
The large bowl is 6.5 inches wide
The small bowl is 4.5 inches wide
And the cup is 3.0 inches wide
We added ½ a cup of water to each
Question 1 – from which of the three will the water disappear the quickest?
We can answer that by watching over the course of the day (maybe the next couple of days).
We should get plenty of sunshine and it should happen pretty fast
Question 2 – where did the water go?
Well, you know from what we just said that the sun has something to do with it. The more sun, the faster it will disappear.
Here’s what is happening…
As the sun rises – the temperature rises as well. It is currently 50°F. We will watch the temperature change during the day as well.
As the temperature rises the heat increases.
As the heat increases in the air, it also increases on objectives all around us – rocks, sand, butterflies, and the water.
As the heat increases in something it will begin to change state… solids will become liquids… liquids become gas.
Now for some solids to become liquids it has to get REALLY hot – like touching the sun, or lava or something. But for others, like ice, it does not have to get very hot at all. Solid water (ice) will begin turning into a liquid (water) at 32°F – so water is a liquid right now at 50°F (and is most places on the planet). As it warms, water become a gas (water vapor) and will “rise” into the atmosphere. You cannot see it… the gas has no color… but it is there, and the air is filled with it.
So how would you make the gas (water vapor) turn back into water?
Cool it down.
We are going to demonstrate this.
Let’s take a cup of water and put ice in it. This will make the water in the cup cold. (see photo).
Eventually, water will begin to form on the outside of the cup. This is NOT water from inside the cup, but rather water that WAS gas (water vapor) in the air outside of the cup – that MAY have evaporated from your bowl!
You just had to cool it down.
Place your cup of ice water outside in the shade – check it in a few minutes to see if water vapor has formed on the outside of the cup. (MINE ALREADY HAS!)
What do you think will happen to the water on the outside of the cup as the sun rises and the day gets warmer?
So, what happens to the water vapor (gas) in the air?
Well, warm air rises – so the warm air with water vapor begins to rise. If you go outside this morning you will see a clear blue sky… no clouds. BUT the water vapor is there, you just can’t see it.
IF it gets cold enough way up in the atmosphere the water vapor will cool, and the water vapor will become water again (just like the water on the outside of the cup of ice).
But here’s the trick… it will NOT form water unless it has something to “settle” on. In our experiment it is “settling” on the cup. Way up in the atmosphere the water “settles” on dust in the air. This is what we call CLOUDS… yep… this is what clouds are.
As the day goes on you might see clouds forming way up in the atmosphere where it is cold and there is dust. If the amount of water becomes a lot, and heavy, the water will fall back to the earth as RAIN.
This is what happened here yesterday.
The air has been warm with a lot of water vapor because we have had a lot of sun lately. Then a mass of cold air moved into the area from Texas. As the water vapor from our warm air met the colder air in the cold front – the water vapor became liquid water and it rained.
Unfortunately for us, not enough. The plants, animals, and people needed more 😊
Well, this is the water cycle and how water moves to different habitats, plants, and animals across the planet. The sun warms – the water becomes gas – the air cools – it becomes rain – and we begin the cycle all over again.
Some have said we will never run out of water. All of the water that has ever existed on our planet is still here. Raining and evaporating. The issue is the quality of the water we have. Is it still good enough for plants and animals to drink? That is a lesson for another day.
Have fun watching your water disappear today!
OH! – watch what happens to the ice also 😊