Hello! My name is Mary Pollard, and today I am going to be writing about STEM for children! STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. While some of these topics may not seem like something appropriate or fun for children, all parts of STEM are easy to work with and use for some fun learning activities!

One activity idea I chose for this is called “Cloud in a Jar”! This idea is from Gift of Curiosity, written by Katie called Weather Science: How to Make a Cloud in a Jar. All you need for this activity is: a jar with a lid, hot water — the hotter the better but only if safe depending on the circumstances (an adult may need to be in charge of pouring the hot water and boiling it if need be), ice cubes, a measuring cup, thermometer (optional), and hairspray!

To complete this activity, first you must measure out ⅓ cup of hot water using the measuring cup. An extra step would be having your child test the temperature of the water using a thermometer (i.e. see if it is at boiling temperature) — which is a good step for extra STEM learning! Next, close the jar for a bit to shake it up lightly which ensures the jar is being warmed up. Then, take the lid off and flip the lid upside down on top of the jar. Place a handful of ice cubes inside the upside down lid, and let it rest for a few seconds — have your child set a timer for 20–30 seconds! When the timer is up, remove the lid and spray some hairspray immediately after into the jar. Then place the upside down lid with the ice still on top back on the jar. Once you have observed a decent amount of condensation forming in the jar, you can take the lid off and watch the cloud evaporate into the air! And that is how you create a cloud in a jar!

I have created two data display templates that can be used during the process to add some more fun to the activity! One is a tally chart with the question “how many ice cubes will fit in the jar lid?”, it is a good way to practice counting and learn about tally marks. If you have any interesting shaped ice cube trays, you can also try the chart with different shaped ice cubes to see if that changes your results! The second one is a bar graph with the question, “what colour should we make the clouds?”. Food colouring will add an exciting bonus to the activity, you can add any colour to make the clouds a different colour! While white is the most scientifically accurate, it is a fun science experiment that does not need to be exactly accurate!

With this STEM activity, children are learning about all aspects of STEM! For science, they are learning all about science process skills! Those skills include: predicting, observing, comparing, measuring, communicating, and defining/controlling variables. These skills take place throughout the activity, from beginning to end. Using a thermometer to measure the temperature of the hot water, a measuring cup to measure out the amount of water needed, and a timer to time the amount of time needed to wait are all aspects of technology. Technology has a big T which is computers, and other technological objects versus a little t which is like the materials listed above! The entire science activity supports engineering by designing and inventing the plan for this activity, brainstorming a plan, building the cloud in a jar, testing and evaluating the outcome of the activity, and possibly modifying the activity through problem solving and trial and error. For mathematics this activity supports number sense through measurement, using a timer, and using the data displays. Communicating throughout the activity also supports mathematics if you are using math language (i.e. sorting, measuring, and counting).

I have two example questions that can be used in this activity to guide the experience for children. One is to support their science learning, and one is to support their math learning. A science question that can be used is “what do you predict will happen with this science experiment?”. Every science experiment needs a hypothesis or prediction, so this is a good first base to encourage science learning for children. A mathematical question could be, “the water is at 70 degrees celsius so far, if we need it to be at 100 degrees celsius for it to boil — do we need it to be hotter or colder and by how much?”. This allows for the children to think about a few factors involved with number words and comparison words (i.e. by how much and hotter or colder). Asking children open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions or questions with a set answer is important, because they can justify their answers more and think more about their answer rather than having to answer a specific way. Asking open-ended questions expands on their learning and helps gain insight into their thinking process. It is also helping them learn about more math language words which is important for building on their math knowledge!

I hope this post has helped out with this activity! Have fun and enjoy making your own clouds!!

The reference for this activity as it was not my idea originally:

Katie. (April 20, 2016). Weather Science: How to Make a Cloud in a Jar (2 Different Methods!) Retrieved from: https://www.giftofcuriosity.com/weather-science-how-to-make-a-cloud-in-a-jar/

Fun times with STEM!!