Science in Sweatpants: Cloud in a cup

Have you ever wondered why some clouds produce rain and some don’t? This experiment will help explain it!

To recreate this at home, you’ll need:

  • A clear cup
  • Enough water to fill the cup up about halfway and a little extra water to mix with the food   coloring
  • Shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • And eye-dropper, pipette, or a straw

Fill your clear cup halfway full with water. Then dispense the shaving cream onto the water, making your cloud.

With your additional water, you can mix together as many colors as you want. I just did two for the video but the possibilities are endless! 

Once you’ve got your colors mixed together, use your eye-dropper, pipette, or straw (I used this option because it’s what I had on-hand) to inject your cloud with water.

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Once the colorful water becomes too heavy in the shaving-cream “cloud”, it will fall out as colorful “rain”.

What are real clouds made of?

A. Shaving cream
B. Cotton candy
C. Cheese
D. Water droplets?

If you said “D. Water droplets” you’re correct! 

Clouds are made up of billions of water droplets, suspended in the air. These droplets constantly collide with other water droplets in the cloud and grow.

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As the droplets grow, they get heavier. When the droplet is finally too heavy to be suspended in the cloud it will fall as--all together now--rain!

Have fun and don’t forget to share pictures of your rain clouds!