Revisit the Concept of Air

Reflecting on Air

  1. Immediately following the investigations above, ask your students to share their drawings.
  2. Begin with the cup investigation, and confirm that everyone drew or circled the same arrangement. (If different arrangements were chosen, ask someone to repeat those arrangements to test the wetness of the material in the bottom of the cup.)

How can you tell air is "something?"

Teaching and Learning Focus

In Investigation Question 1 students recognized that air affects other things, which is the result of the fact that it is matter. This simple procedure will help your students to understand that air is "something," that is, that like all matter it takes up space and can be contained. They will learn this by seeing that air takes up the space in a cup that is inverted in water such that objects in the cup do not get wet.

What is there between you and me?

Teaching and Learning Focus

These first investigations of weather offer a set of experiences and thoughtful discussions to help your students understand that air is matter that can be experienced and measured. Some of the measurements and observations your students make will be similar to those used by meteorologists to forecast the weather.

What is the difference between evaporation and condensation?

Liquid water consists of water molecules that are held near each other by attractive forces but are still free to move around among one another. Also, water molecules have thermal energy, in the form of extremely fast vibrations. Water molecules at a water surface occasionally vibrate so strongly that they fly out into the air to become vapor. At the same time, water molecules in the air occasionally crash back onto the water surface to join the liquid water. These motions are occurring all the time at the water surface.

What is the water cycle?

A "closed system" consists of a container that allows energy, but not matter, to pass back and forth across the walls of the container. The Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land surface act as an almost closed system. Water moves along a variety of pathways in this closed system. This system of movement is called the "water cycle."

How do scientists use radar and satellites to observe and predict weather?

Radar (radio detection and ranging) has become an important tool for observing and predicting the weather. Radar was invented and developed in Britain and the U.S. at the beginning of the Second World War. It was used to detect the approach of enemy airplanes. An antenna sends out radio waves. The waves are reflected from solids or liquids in the air and received back by the antenna. The radar equipment shows the position and distance of the objects. The results are shown on a screen. The screen is similar to the screen of a television or a computer monitor.


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