NASA for Kids
Because kids are natural sky watchers, they are curious about both clouds and contrails. It is likely that when contrails are present that young children will notice and pay more attention to them than adults. Here are some basic facts that will interest them:
1. Contrails are long clouds of ice crystals caused by the exhaust from the engines of high-flying aircraft.
2. Contrails can spread into cirrus clouds that reduce sunlight during the day and warm the Earth at night.
3. Contrails are formed when the temperature of the air is around -40 degrees Celsius (which equals -40 degrees Fahrenheit).
4. Contrails do not form when the air is too dry. The length of contrails provides a clue about how dry the sky is where the plane that caused the contrail is flying.
5. Clouds that shade the sun during the day can cause cool weather.Significance:
Kids know that some clouds signal rain and other mean fair weather. They need to know that contrails are actually manmade clouds and that they can cause measurable changes in the temperature far below where they live and go to school.Project Links: Real Time Data Source: MY NASA DATA Source: Project Ideas:
1. Contrail Identification. Young students should learn the differences between natural clouds and contrails. They should learn the three most basic kinds of contrails: (1) short and transient, (2) long and persistent or (3) spreading. They can find out more about contrail identification by visiting the S’COOL Cloud Chart: Contrails and GLOBE Contrail Resources.
2. Contrail Calendar. Young students can easily add contrail observations to a daily cloud calendar. They might even consider a separate Contrail Calendar. The calendar can be a pocket notebook or a calendar with plenty of white space for each day. If a notebook is used, the student should print the day, month and year at the top of each page. For more ideas, see Science Project 1: Clouds for Kids.
3. Contests. Kids love contests. You can motivate young students to observe contrails by organizing a contest for the highest number of contrails that are observed in a given week or month.
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