University of Virginia
Physics Department

Condensation

A Physical Science Activity

2003 Virginia SOLs

 

Objectives

Students will

 

Motivation for Learning

Driving Question

When you are drinking a cold drink, do you notice that sometimes your glass gets wet on the outside? Why do you think this happens? Under what conditions do you get more or less water?
  

Background Information

This activity is designed to introduce students to the concept of condensation. They should discover that the colder a liquid is on the inside of the glass, the more condensation develops on the outside of the glass. This activity will work better in a more humid environment so that there is more water vapor in the air to be condensed on the glasses.

 

Student Activity

To print out the Student Copy only, click here.

Materials

 

Procedure

  1. Obtain 3 beakers and 3 paper towels. Take the mass of each of the dry paper towels and record that mass in the data table.
  2. Line the 3 paper towels along a table or counter so that they are not touching each other.
  3. Fill one beaker to the top with ice, a second beaker halfway, and a third beaker a quarter full. Then fill the beakers up with water.
  4. Carefully place the beakers on top of the paper towels being sure not to spill any of the water.
  5. Allow the beakers to sit for 10-15 minutes (depending on the humidity). Observe the condensation developing on the outside of the beakers. What do you see?
  6. After the 10-15 minutes have passed, wipe each of the beakers completely dry with the paper towels underneath. (Make sure you don't dip the paper towels into the water or accidentally wipe a different beaker.)
  7. Take the mass of the wet paper towels, and record those masses in the data table. (Make sure that you record the masses of the wet paper towels in the correct place to match up with the same paper towel when it was dry.)
  8. Subtract the masses to determine how much water was added to the paper towels. Record this in the data table. Which paper towel gained the most water? The one from the coldest beaker or the warmest beaker?
  9. Take the temperature of the three different beakers of water and record these values in the data table.
  10. Make a graph of Mass of Condensation vs. Temperature of Water. What type of curve to you get? What kind of relationship is there between temperature of water and the amount of condensation you get?
  11. Because of the inverse relationship you may now want to have the students graph 1/mass vs. temperature. This should give them a nice linear graph to show that as temperature decreases, the mass of the condensation increases accordingly.

 

Data Table

Beaker

Mass of Dry Paper Towel

Mass of Wet Paper Towel

Mass of Condensation

Temperature of Water

Filled with Ice

 

 

 

 

Half-filled

 

 

 

 

Quarter-filled

 

 

 

 

 

Sample Data

Beaker

Mass of Dry Paper Towel

Mass of Wet Paper Towel

Mass of Condensation

Temperature of Water

Filled with Ice

2.0 g

3.7 g

1.7 g

4.83 C°

Half-filled

2.0 g

3.3 g

1.3 g

6.12 C°

Quarter-filled

2.0 g

2.7 g

0.7 g

12.4 C°

Extensions

  1. Have students design and perform an experiment that would test the condensation rates of other liquids.
  2. Have students make the graphs using a graphing calculator or other graphing program and find best fit lines.

 

Students with Special Needs

All students should be able to participate in this activity.

Click here for further information on laboratories with students with special needs.

 

Assessment

  1. Walk around and check students' data and graphs to make sure they are correct.
  2. Have students write a paragraph explaining the concept of condensation and what the results of their experiments were.