Project Weather School: Learn About Weather at Home

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As we continue to practice social distancing and kids are learning from home, the meteorologists at Spectrum News 1 wanted to help you and your family learn a little more about weather and science from the comfort of  your home.



What You Will Need:

  • Glass jar and lid (preferably metal)
  • Ice cubes
  • Hot water
  • Aerosol hairspray (optional)

How To Do It:

  1. Fill a glass jar with 1 to 2 inches of hot water.
  2. Turn the lid from the jar upside down and set a few ice cubes inside of the lid.
  3. Spray a little bit of hairspray in the jar
  4. Quickly set the upside-down lid filled with ice cubes on top of the jar of hot water.

You will see a cloud begin to form within a few seconds.  The reason this occurs is that some of the warm water in the bottom of the jar turns to water vapor, which then begins to rise.  Warm air rises because it is less dense than the air surrounding it — think hot-air balloon. 

When air rises in the atmosphere it cools.  We simulate this in our experiment with the cold air that comes off of the lid filled with the ice cubes. 

When the rising warm/moist air in the jar comes into contact with the cold air near the top of the jar, it begins to cool and condensation occurs.   

In the atmosphere, water vapor tends to condensate on particles of dust, pollen, volcanic ash or air pollution.  In our experiment, the hairspray works as our “dust” particles and the water vapor is able to condense onto the hairspray, which allows our cloud to form. 



Clouds most commonly form when you have rising air that is cooled. Here are a few of the basic cloud types:

Cumulus Clouds —“Cumulus” comes from the Latin word meaning “heap.” They are puffy white clouds often associated with fair weather. They are great clouds to use your imagination to see what different shapes/images you make out. 

Stratus Clouds — “Stratus” comes from a Latin Word meaning “Layer.” These are dull, gray, uniform clouds that are low in the sky… and can be affiliated with mist or drizzle.

Stratocumulus Clouds — A combination of the two cloud types just mentioned. They are low, lumpy, and usually grayish with a little sunlight peeking through. 

Altocumulus Clouds — “Alto” meaning middle. They form in the middle part of the sky (usually between 6,500 ft & 20,000 ft). They look like puffs in the sky roughly the size of your thumbnail. They are not affiliated with rain and are beautiful to see.

Cumulonimbus Cloud — A thunderstorm cloud that usually has an Anvil-shaped top. It’s affiliated with lightning, and if conditions are right, it could produce severe weather. 

Shelf Cloud — An ominous-looking cloud that hangs low & forms on the leading edge of a thunderstorm’s gust front. Once the leading edge of the shelf cloud passes, winds usually increase dramatically. 

Cirrus Clouds — Thin wispy Clouds made of ice crystals as they form High in the sky… above 20,000ft.

Sundogs — An atmospheric beauty! They are two balls of light on both sides of the Sun… caused by the refraction (or bending) of sunlight through ice crystals. 

Rainbow — Usually, a fan favorite! It happens when you have rain falling in one part of the sky & the sun shining in the other. The sunlight is being refracted and reflected through raindrops.