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Cloud Experiment by Guest Blogger Abbey Knight

I would like to introduce you to a fabulous teacher, Abbey Knight.  She has agreed to by my Guest Blogger this week.  Please enjoy this wonderful blog post.

Water Cycle Experiment
By Abbey Knight
The water cycle is a really fun science standard for second grade. I’ve done this experiment twice now, and it was quite a hit with both groups.
Materials you’ll need:
Clear plastic cups
Foamy shaving cream
Droppers (One per group)
Blue food coloring
I do this experiment with my kids after we’ve discussed types of clouds, what precipitation is, and the water cycle. I start with asking the kids how much water they think it takes for the clouds to rain. A really fun analogy a student brought to my attention this year was that clouds are like big sponges, a little bit of water won’t make it drip, but a soaked sponge will drip and can’t hold any more water.
For this experiment, I wouldn’t suggest having the students in groups of more than three. I had a few groups of two, and a few groups of three this past time and it was great. Everyone felt like they were a part of the experiment and got to put enough drops in. 

First, I give them only the cups of blue water with the dropper. As I pass them out I let them explore. “See how much water you can make come out in one squeeze.” Then, “How teeny tiny of a drop can you make?” This is good fine motor skill practice, and it gives them a chance to practice with the dropper. We discuss how tiny the water droplets in the clouds are and I have them estimate how many drops it will take to break through the shaving cream cloud.
Next, I give them their shaving cream cloud cup and we discuss how all of the water doesn’t come up and sit in one spot, but it spreads out across the cloud.
Then, I let them at it. I have them tally their drops as they go so they can remember at the end, but I also have some groups who count orally all together as each drop goes in. My rule of thumb is five drops, and pass it.
Once the first group has the blue coloring seep through I throw my hands in the air and say, “It’s raining!” They then record their results and draw their pictures on the page that will go in their science notebooks. If they’re all finished I let them play with the dropper and water until everyone is finished.

Teacher Tips for this experiment:
-Make sure the blue water is dark blue, this will make it easier for the students to see it “rain”.
-Remind them that one “drop” should really only be one drop, not three or four. Talk about gentle fingers.
-Don’t fill the cups all the way up. This will prevent spillage, and they just don’t need it.
-Use the fluffiest shaving cream you can find and make sure it spreads all the way to the edges. I usually just put a big glob in the middle and spread it with a toothpick.
-I prepare all of this before school because my prep always ends up being something different than I plan. The shaving cream does just fine sitting on top of the water for hours.
Thank you Abbey Knight for this great blog post.   
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