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Weather Water Tanks: Fronts and Thermoclines Lab Activity

What happens when warm ocean water and cold ocean water meet?

  • Students Research Weather and Oceanography Concepts
  • Material for Six Groups
  • Kit Employs Framework Science Standard ESS2
  • Estimated Lab Time: 45 Minutes
  • Assessments and Vocabulary Words Target Common Core Standards
This easy-to-perform, hands-on lab is a great way for students to see and remember how fluids of different temperatures and densities interact. This activity simulates weather fronts and oceanography (thermoclines), making it a useful tool for the study of these phenomena.

In the first part of the activity, each group of students places two different colors of hot and cold water into a divided tank. When they remove the barrier, students are amazed to see the cold water sliding below the hot water while the hot water moves up and over the cold water. As students continue the activity, they find that not only do hot and cold water form distinct layers but also that adding warm water to these layers results in a third layer between the first two. This activity employs the Framework Science Standard ESS2: Earth's Systems. It is aligned with all published National Standards. Pre and post-laboratory assessments and vocabulary words target specific Science and Engineering Practices and Common Core standards. The teacher guide also contains specific "Did You Know" concepts that link the real world with the scientific standards explored. This kit contains a student copymaster and enough materials for six groups of four to five students. This lab activity takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.

Ordering information: This kit includes six water tanks, 30 mL of blue food coloring, 20 mL of red food coloring, a student's guide, and a teacher's guide. 14 disposable pipets or droppers, 12 beakers (400 or 500 mL), hot and cold water, cardboard or sheets of unlined white paper, and tape are required but not included.



Item # Description For Use With Unit Availability Price Quantity
470190-704 Weather Water Tanks: Fronts and Thermoclines Lab Activity
6 Lab Groups Each Retrieving


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