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Hit the Shower!

The sun drives the water cycle. Water changes depending on its temperature. When waters heats up, it changes to a vapor. This is called evaporation. When the vapor cools, it changes back into liquid water. This process is called condensation.

You can see evaporation - if you have a fish bowl or a pool. Over time, the water seems to disappear. No one takes it. The fish don't drink it. It simply turns from liquid water to vapor through evaporation.

When you grab a nice, cold soda out of the refrigerator and set it on the table, the can becomes wet. No one pours water on your can. The can is cold. It cools the water vapor in the air causing it to condense. The liquid water forms as droplets on the can.

Try these two experiments to compare condensation and evaporation for yourself!

Evaporation – liquid water heats up and changes into a vapor.

Condensation – water vapor cools, collects together and becomes a liquid.
  1. Close the bathroom door and take a nice, warm shower or bath.
  2. Look at the mirror when
    you get out. It is foggy. Water vapor condensed on the cool mirror.
  3. “Blow dry” the mirror with a hairdryer.
  4. Where did the water go? It was heated by the hairdryer, and changed into a vapor that you can’t see.
  1. Take a cup or glass and fill it with ice cubes and water.
  2. Wait 15 minutes or longer.
  3. Check the outside of the cup to see if it has water on it.
  4. Where did the water come from? It was already in the air as a vapor. The cool temperature caused it to condense on the cup and form a liquid.
After your experiments share with a classmate, family member, or friend how evaporation and condensation are similar. Tell how are they different.

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Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 4th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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