Science For Six-Year-Olds is a recurring segment on Science Decoded for Mrs. Podolak’s first grade class at Lincoln-Hubbard elementary school. This year in first grade we’ve also done an experiment with butter, talked about hurricanes, sugar maple trees, and learned a song about the states of matter.
Hello First Graders! Now that it is officially Spring, it seems like a great time to start your new science unit on clouds. I hear you have started to learn about what clouds are made of, and the different types of clouds. I wanted to share some information with you about a special type of cloud called a Noctilucent cloud. Have any of you ever heard of a Noctilucent cloud? They are a unique type of cloud that can be observed at night and are formed by ice at the line where Earth’s atmosphere meets space. These clouds are known for looking shiny because they are so high up in the atmosphere that they stay lit up by the sun, even after it has set for the day.
This kind of cloud is a relatively new discovery. They were first observed in 1885, which is a long time ago but not for scientists who have been observing and learning about the Earth for as long as humans have existed. Since they began studying Noctilucent clouds, scientists have learned that they form at temperatures around -230°F. What is the temperature outside today? What about in your classroom? Can you imagine how cold it is at -230°F? In the upper atmosphere when it is that cold, dust blowing up from Earth below or falling down into the atmosphere from space gives water vapor a place to condense and freeze.