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How many times have you said to yourself “I can predict the weather better than those guys can”? Well, now’s your chance. At the WFTV Severe Weather Center 9, you can become a meteorologist for the day and show “those guys” how it’s really done!

Located within the exhibit Our Planet, Our Universe, the Weather Center is a working replica of the actual set used on WFTV’s weather forecasts. You’ll learn how to put a weather forecast together using all of the tools a meteorologist uses. Then, when your forecast is ready, you can practice delivering it in front of a green screen – putting you right in the action as WFTV’s newest chief meteorologist!  Take a look at some of the great stations you’ll be working with…

  • Introduction: WFTV Chief Meteorologist Tom Terry and his team have put together a series of videos that bring the profession to life.  You’ll see what a day in the life of a meteorologist is really like, learn about careers in the field and even see how Doppler radar works.
  • Weather Basics: As you pass through the exhibit, the first stop is the weather basics wall.  Here, Tom and his team explain what weather is all about – from cold fronts to rainbows and describe just what makes some of our weather severe.
  • Current Conditions: See what the weather is like outside the Science Center using WFTV’s forecasting equipment located right on our roof!
  • Create Your Own Forecast: Choose from a variety of weather conditions and have the WFTV team report your forecast.
  • Report Your Own Forecast: Now that you’ve had the training and seen the experts, it’s time to do a forecast of your own!  Stand in front of a green screen and report the weather just like the pros while your family watches you on TV!

In a city like Orlando, where weather is so important to how we live, the WFTV Severe Weather Center 9 will give you everything you need to know about how the weather happens and how the experts bring it to you.

 

Have you ever wondered what a vortex is and how natural vortices including tornadoes, whirlpools and cyclones move the way they do? Try the tornado in a bottle experiment to find out. A vortex is a whirling mass of water, air or fire that creates a visible tornado-like column or spiral. A vortex can be created with the help of angular momentum, surface tension, centripetal force and fluid displacement. This experiment requires the use of super glue and a drill, so kids – don’t try this without an adult!

Materials

  • Two 2 liter plastic soft drink bottles
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Two bottle lids
  • Super glue
  • Electrical Tape
  • Drill

Process

  1. Fill one bottle ¾ full with water.
  2. Add some food coloring and glitter. (Optional)
  3. Use the super glue (with a parent’s help) to glue the two bottle lids together, flat sides touching.
  4. Let dry.
  5. Drill a hole (with a parent’s help) through the center of both lids with a 9 mm drill bit.
  6. Screw in one side of the bottle lid to the bottle filled with water. Then, screw the empty bottle onto the other side of the connecting lids.
  7. Add some electrical tape around the connection to reinforce.
  8. Turn the bottles over and observe the movement of water from one bottle to the next.
  9. Try again, but this time give the bottle a few spirals as you set it down. Notice what happens this time.

Explanation

The first time you turn the bottles over, the surface tension of the water tries to keep the water from flowing down. The weight of the water above it, however, forces the water to bubble up and break through into the second bottle. This is what makes the BLOOP BLOOP sound you hear as it happens several times. Each time this happens, pressure builds up in the bottom of the bottle until the air is forced up into the top bottle over and over until the top bottle is empty.

The second time, the water was directed into a spiral by your swirling motion creating a vortex into the bottom bottle. Gravity works to pull the spinning water down through the hole into the bottom bottle. The angular momentum of the spinning water makes the water at the center of the vortex spin faster than the water closer to the edge of the bottle creating a whirlpool effect.

The vortex created by the swirl lets the air pass through the center of the vortex without disrupting the flow of the water. When you combine this with the forces of water pressure and the gravity force, a centripetal force, or spinning force, makes the water swirl. Notice that the water near the bottom moves faster than the water at the top. The higher the speed, the steeper the curve needed to allow the spinning motion.


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Throughout the year the sun appears at different locations at the same time of day. At 6 P.M. in July it's still sunny outside, while at 6 P.M. in January the Sun has already set. These differences are easily seen month by month, but not easily seen by the days or the weeks.

The sun tracking experiment will allow you to see that the sun appears in different locations at same specific time everyday. This is a great outdoor summer activity that will be fun for you and your family!  Here is how it works:

Sun_Track_1

  1. Glue a wooden stick to a cardboard square so that it stands upright at the edge, so the whole shadow can be seen on the square.
  2. Place the cardboard square outside where it can be exposed to the sun on a flat surface. Every day at the same time make a mark on the cardboard where the tip of the shadow is located and write the date. (It is important for the board to be in the exact location, facing the same direction everyday. It may be useful to mark the ground location where you will be putting the cardboard)
  3. Repeat this daily or weekly at the same exact time each day.
  4. Look at the results to discuss with your family about how often the sun moves compared to your expectations.

Sun_Track_2

The tilt of the Earth’s axis which causes the Earth to Face the Sun at an 23 degree angle is what causes the change in the shadow’s location. Depending on where the Earth is located in its orbit around the sun is what determines the length of day. The length of the days changes because the Earth’s location around the sun is contantly changing.


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Ever wonder how a cloud is formed? Try this experiment to find out. You can make your own homemade cloud by using simple ingredients. A cloud needs three basic ingredients to be formed, water vapor; dust, smoke or other particles in the air; and a drop in air pressure. With all these ingredients present you can create a cloud, even at home!  This experiment involves matches, so kids - don't try this without an adult!

Materials
  • 2-liter clear plastic pop bottle
  • matches (children will need adult assistance to light matches)
  • warm water
Process
  1. Fill the clear plastic 2-liter bottle one-third full of warm water and place the cap on. As warm water evaporates, it adds water vapor to the air inside the bottle. This is the first ingredient to make a cloud.
  2. Squeeze and release the bottle and observe what happens. You’ll notice that nothing happens. Why? The squeeze represents the warming that occurs in the atmosphere. The release represents the cooling that occurs in the atmosphere. If the inside of the bottle becomes cover with condensation or water droplets, just shake the bottle to get rid of them.
  3. Take the cap off the bottle. Carefully light a match and hold the match near the opening of the bottle.
  4. Then drop the match in the bottle and quickly put on the cap, trapping the smoke inside. Dust, smoke or other particles in the air is the second ingredient to make a cloud.
  5. Once again, slowly squeeze the bottle hard and release. What happens? A cloud appears when you release and disappears when you squeeze. The third ingredient in clouds is a drop in air pressure.
Explanation

Water vapor, water in its invisible gaseous state, can be made to condense into the form of small cloud droplets. By adding particles such as the smoke enhances the process of water condensation and by squeezing the bottle causes the air pressure to drop. This creates a cloud!

 


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Is that a bird? Or a plane? Nope, it’s a weather balloon! Regularly misinterpreted as a UFO, weather balloons can serve as a reliable source when looking at the weather. Weather balloons were first used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Now, they are not as common as they once were but still can be used to find out more facts about the atmosphere around us. Weather balloons are packed with instruments and then sent up to receive information about the weather around us. The weather balloon reports information about the atmosphere pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind speed.

The actual instrument used is called a radiosonde. The radiosonde is actually what receieves and transmits the information. The balloon is used as a hoisting method and the radiosonde does the rest of the work. Weather balloons can be used as a prediction tool or to measure weather in current time. Weather balloons are also used to monitor pollution, research, aviation interests, photography, and videography. So next time you look up and think you see a UFO, you might just see a weather balloon doing its job.

Weather_Balloon


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Do you ever walk outside in the early mornings and your vision is hazed by fog? Do you ever wonder what exactly fog is? Well, fog is simply a cloud that is in contact with the ground. There are numerous types of fog, but they all have one fact in common: they form when the relative humidity reaches 100% and the dew point drops below the dew point. Here are descriptions of different types of fog as described by World of Earth Science:

Radiation or ground fog is formed after sunset when there is a cooling of the land caused by thermal radiation in calm weather conditions. When the cool ground reaches its dew point, it then produces moisture in the air, which forms into condensation or fog droplets. The fog sometimes boils over to the next morning before the sun has come up to cool ground.

Advection fog forms when warm, moist air horizontally movesover a cold surface, which cools the air to its dew point. It is common along coastlines where moist air moves from over the water to over the land, or when an air mass moves over a cold surface (e.g., snow), and the moisture in the air condenses into fog as the surface cools it..

Evaporation fog forms by the mixing of two unsaturated air masses. This can occur when cold, dry air moves over warmer water. The air, quickly saturated by evaporation and condensation, creating a steam like fog. This most commonly takes place over bodies of waters and can be known as sea smoke.

Precipitation or frontal fog forms as precipitation falls into cool, almost saturated air. This can take place with warm, cold, or stationary fronts

No matter what type of fog is drifting in the air, it is important to always take extra caution when driving. Fog reduces visibility and can be very dangerous, so make sure that you’re light are on and know when the sun come out, there will be a clear day ahead!

Fog

 



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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: [email protected]
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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