AccuWeather School Fall Semester: Weeks 14-15
ð Dec. 11 - AP class: Can heavy rain extinguish a volcano’s lava?
We all know that water is the best way to fight a fire, so when a volcano is spewing lava, it’s a good thing when heavy rain is in the forecast, right? Heavy rain will extinguish a wildfire but is no match for molten rock.
Our friends from the U.S. Geological Survey said that the temperature of lava can get as high as about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 degrees Celsius) – talk about hot! Remember that the boiling point of water is 212 F (100 C), so you can imagine how rain will simply evaporate instantly when it pours down on the lava.
Attempting to put out lava with rain would work as well as firefighters using a squirt gun to put out a house fire, Meteorologist Jim Andrews who also studies volcanoes said. In fact, Jim said that it would take heavy rainfall that is basically unheard of to douse lava.
Lava moves across the ground as a pahoehoe flow, KÄ«lauea Volcano, Hawaii. (Photo/Griggs J.D./USGS)
After this volcano lesson, check out this cool “erupting volcano” that AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls created at home:
We are not going to say what chemical Jason used in the above video since it is toxic and explosive, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt. We do have instructions for you to make a safer volcano at home.
ð¨ Dec. 8: Art Class: Design your own sun at home
It’s time to show off your artistic skills at AccuWeather School and create a sun at home with a few simple supplies!
Before we start this activity, you will want to grab the following: shaving cream, food coloring, wax paper, white construction paper, newspaper, a toothpick and something with a sharp edge (such as a piece of a cardboard box).
The sun is 109.2 times larger than Earth
Talk about hot – the sun’s core is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius)!
No rush to bake a birthday cake! The sun is about 4.5 billion years old, and it takes 230 million Earth years for the sun to orbit around the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
It’s big, but not that big – the sun is actually a yellow dwarf star, meaning there are many other bigger types of stars in space.
Special thanks to NASA for the instructions behind today’s fun activity.
âï¸ Dec. 8: Astronomy class: Sun’s journey in the sky lesson from one lazy cat
How can a cat help us learn about the sun? Cats and other animals sit in the sun and soak up the warmth. Cold-blooded reptiles, such as snakes, need the sun to warm up their bodies. Cats are warm-blooded, like us humans, and enjoy napping in the sun, much like you would with an extra blanket wrapped around you.
Have you ever seen your cat move with the patch of sun as the sun seems to travel from the eastern part of the sky to the west during the day? Play close attention from one month to the next and you will see that your cat will never be in the same spot – all because of the tilt of the Earth and its journey around the sun.
ð Dec. 4. - Pop quiz! How much of the ocean actually freezes?
Most people, when standing along the ocean with snow covering the sand, will see that the waves will keep crashing onto the beach. You may think that the air is cold enough for the ocean to freeze, but why doesn’t it? One of the main reasons is why you don’t drink seawater – it’s very salty!
At what temperature does water freeze? If you said, "32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius," you get a gold star! In the ocean, there is enough salt to drop the temperature at which the ocean will freeze down to 28.4 F, or 2 below zero C. At the beaches most of us visit, the air doesn’t get that cold long enough for the ocean to freeze – and the never-ending waves also keep the ocean from freezing as fast as lakes and ponds near your home.
The ocean will freeze if the air is cold enough. At least 15 percent of the ocean on Earth will freeze at some point in the year, our friends at NOAA said.
ð Dec. 4 - Study Hall: How blubber helps animals stay warm in the cold ocean
Seals, walruses and whales live in the icy cold waters of the Arctic Ocean and around Antarctica, but how do they stay warm and not freeze to death? If you said blubber, you get a gold star! Blubber is the layer of fat right below the skin of these animals that keeps them warm.
How much of a difference does blubber make? Let’s grab some shortening from our kitchen cabinets to find out:
Imagine the shortening Krissy used in the video above is the blubber under the skin of a seal, walrus or any other marine mammal – that’s why her one hand didn’t get as cold as the other!
Did you know that blubber does more than keep marine mammals warm? According to our friends at National Geographic, who had the idea for the activity Krissy demonstrated, blubber also helps to keep these animals afloat and is where they store energy, so these animals don’t have to spend as much time looking for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day!
ð¬ Dec. 1 - Invention Station: Rip apart a soda can like a piece of paper
You don’t need amazing muscle strength to rip a soda can in half like it’s a piece of paper – just a little help from one element on the periodic table, Gallium:
Gallium is the metal that AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls melted in his hand recently at AccuWeather School. You can hold Gallium in your hand, but it attacks many other metals such as aluminum and steel and makes them very brittle.
If you try this activity at home since Gallium is non-toxic, be sure to wear gloves when ripping the can apart. Gallium may be the muscles behind this experiment, but the can may still be sharp!
ð Dec. 1 - Snack Time! Tasty treat helps understand freezing rain, sleet
It’s winter! Wait a minute, your calendar says that the first day of winter isn’t until Dec. 21. That’s astronomical winter. Meteorological winter starts on Dec. 1 in the Northern Hemisphere, so let’s learn more about winter weather.
When you hear that ice is in the forecast, what comes to mind? A glaze of ice that coats everything and makes it really difficult to walk or drive? That’s freezing rain. However, sleet is also a form of icy weather. When sleet is falling, you will see ice pellets making roads and sidewalks slippery.
So how does each form? A tasty treat is going to help us with this lesson:
One important lesson is that sleet is not hail. Both are balls of ice – but sleet happens in the winter and hail is more common in the summer. Hail forms as it takes a ferris wheel ride up and down in a thunderstorm cloud – growing bigger and bigger with each loop. Sleet will only be one size as it is a frozen raindrop.
Additional experiments and reporting by Jason Nicholls.
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