University of Virginia
Physics Department


A Physical Science Activity

Student Activity




  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


Mass of Dry Paper Towel

Mass of Wet Paper Towel

Mass of Condensation

Temperature of Water

Filled with Ice