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Weather Experiment: Creating your own 'thunderstorm'

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Posted at 9:06 AM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 12:10:41-04

In today's weather experiment for kids, we're creating our own thunderstorm to better understand how they're formed. Below is a list of household items you'll need along with an explanation for each step.

Things you'll need:

  • Ice cube tray
  • Clear plastic bin
  • Food coloring

Steps to follow:

  1. Make your ice cubes and add the blue coloring to each one.
  2. Once they're done freezing add lukewarm water to your clear plastic bin. You'll want to fill it almost all the way to the top.
  3. Place a few of your ice cubes on one side of them bin, and add red coloring to the other side of the bin.
  4. Now watch what happens as the two different colors interact with each other due to the temperature change.

(Tip: Don't make the water in the clear plastic bin too hot. The ice cubes will melt too fast and you'll end up with purple water.)
Explanation:
A thunderstorm needs three key ingredients to form: moisture, lift, and unstable air. In this experiment, the blue coloring represents cold/cool air sinking, while the red represents warm air rising. The reaction between the two air masses happens because convention. Convection helps carry moisture into our upper atmosphere. This type of energy also makes the air unstable which leads to the formation of a thunderstorm.

Click here to read more about thunderstorm basics.

Click here to read more about the different types of storms.