Weather Stations: Phase Change

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In this activity, learners observe the water cycle in action! Water vapor in a tumbler condenses on chilled aluminum foil — producing the liquid form of water familiar to us as rain and dew. Learners discuss how Jupiter's lack of a surface simplifies its water cycle. Learners then consider the roles ammonia and ammonia compounds play in Jupiter's more complicated atmosphere. This activity is one station that can be combined with other stations for an hour and half lesson on weather patterns on Jupiter and Earth.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 2 identical clear containers, (1 filled with ice, 1 filled with water)
  • 1 clear plastic tumbler for holding hot water
  • Small sheet of aluminum foil (enough to cover the top of the tumbler)
  • Water
  • Electric tea kettle or carafe of boiling hot water
  • Ice cubes (enough to use 3–4 during each demonstration)
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 large bowl for periodically emptying tumblers
  • Towel for drying and cleaning spills
  • Hot pads
  • The Earth's Water Cycle Poster
  • "Weather Stations: Phase Change" pages
  • Pencils or pens


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
    • Solar System
      • The Planets
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elements and Periodic Table
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • , Lunar and Planetary Institute, 2011

Funding Source:

  • NASA