This photograph shows the build-up of cumulus clouds.
Courtesy of Steve Albers
Back to Clouds
Watch the Sky
Ever looked up in the sky on a lazy Sunday afternoon and just watched the
clouds? Well, here's a project where you can do just
that and learn something too! This project works best if you do it with a
group...either with your classmates, friends, brothers and sisters, or parents.
You will need a pad of paper and pencils or crayons. You can also use a camera if
you have one (200 speed film recommended). If you own a pair of binoculars, bring
those along too.
First, read about different types of clouds in the
Earth's Atmosphere section of the Windows to the Universe website. Then,
every day, for the next 3 weeks, go out into an open area where you can see a lot of
sky. (DO NOT work on this project if the weather is bad or if you hear or see
thunder and lightning.
Safety is more important.) Look at the sky
in all directions. If you see a cloud, draw a picture or take a photo of it.
Determine what kind of cloud it is and what cloud group it belongs to. How much sky
is covered by clouds? Does it look like it's going to rain or snow? Is it
foggy? How high up are the clouds? What color are the clouds? Is it windy?
How hot or cold is it? What time is it? Write
all of this down on your pad of paper. Also write down what the weather was like
for that whole day. For fun, see if the cloud looks like someone or something
(a cat or your teacher, for example).
Do this every day for the next three weeks. At the end of three weeks, meet
with your classmates, friends, brothers and sisters, or parents. Go over all of
the photos, drawings, and data that you collected and discuss them with your group.
Try to answer the following questions:
What clouds are associated with good weather? rain? snow?
Of the three weeks, were there more cloudy days, or more clear days? Why do you
think that is?
Do you think different seasons play a large role
with cloud cover? If so, which seasons do you think have more cloud cover and
Which clouds belonged to the Low Cloud group? High Cloud group? Middle Cloud
group? How many of each?
If you are doing this with your class, ask your teacher to hang up your photos or
drawings. Hang them up according to cloud group. Throughout the rest of the school
year, take a look out a classroom window once a day and figure out what type of
clouds there are in the sky.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
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