Experiments with KVRR Meteorologist Scott Sincoff: Convection on Fire

Fun and Easy Science Experiments

This week, Meteorologist Scott Sincoff worked with Ben Franklin Middle School Earth Science Teacher Barry Olson to create Convection on Fire.

What you need to do the experiment:

  • Lighter
  • Tea Bag
  • Cup to put contents of tea bag in
  • Scissors

How to do the experiment:

We’re going to demonstrate how a convection current works in the atmosphere. We’re going to use a tea bag, scissors, and a lighter.  We will begin by cutting the top off the tea bag.  Discard the top part of the tea bag with the string on it.  Pour the contents of the tea bag into a cup.  Unfold the tea bag and use your fingers to create a cylinder with your tea bag.

We will now stand the tea bag cylinder up on the table.  Using the lighter ignite the top of the tea bag.  The molecules of air in the tea bag will increase in temperature and speed up, causing them to rise.  As the tea bag rises towards the ceiling the air molecules will cool off causing them to sink back to the table.  You have now created a convection current in the atmosphere.

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