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Making Rain

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Modelling
Topic: States of matter

This winter was the driest in Britain since 1933/4. Summer water shortages are expected, and hosepipe bans likely. So can we solve the problem by making rain? In this activity students learn about the significance of droplet size in natural rain formation. They then look at Chinese experiences of 'cloud seeding' before annotating a graphic to show how it works.

Published: 23rd April 2005
Reviews & Comments: 5

Learning objectives

To use the particle model to explain how rain is made and how cloud seeding works

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

7g particle model – use the particle model to explain changes of state

Running the activity

Page 1 sets the context, and suggests some unusual ways of summoning rain. Page 2 – in the form of a comic strip – explains the process of natural cloud formation and describes Chinese experiences of 'cloud seeding'. The particle model, changes of state and droplet size are emphasised. The activity is on page 3. Students cut out labels and particle diagrams and stick them in appropriate places on the graphic. In so doing, they create a visual explanation of natural and 'seeded' rain formation.

Cloud seeding experiments began at least 50 years ago – but have not always been successful! Many countries now have cloud seeding programmes, including China, South Africa, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. This activity does not mention problems associated with making rain artificially – see the weblinks below for discussion of some of the issues.

News links

New Scientist
This article focuses on Chinese and South African experiences of cloud seeding. It is detailed and comprehensive, and includes interesting information about experimental techniques. Controversial aspects of cloud seeding are highlighted, too.
New Scientist - graphic
This series of diagrams clearly illustrates the stages of both natural and artificial rain production.
This is a very student-friendly site about weather phenomena

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Mar 8th, 2011

5 Star

Excellent resources and a fun way of learning science through creative thinking.

Reviewer: Maria Vincent

Science resources

Nov 9th, 2009

5 Star

excellent brilliant students responded well.

Reviewer: Patricia Brooks-Dickens

Making Rain

Mar 30th, 2009

5 Star

Good thinking activity for end of particles/change of state sequence. The activity is apparently straightforward but the particle representations are relatively difficult and provide an opportunity for discussion and collaboration.

Reviewer: s evans


Jan 28th, 2008

3 Star

Year 7 pupils found it quite difficult to tell the difference between the meaning of the different figures (ie haze, water vapour etc) and needed quite a lot of help.

Reviewer: Alan Evans

MAking Rain

May 18th, 2006

4 Star

I used this with my year 7 mixed ability group. The cleverer ones understood the principle behind cloud seeding. The majority needed guidance flling in the rain diagram. I thought the idea was a good one and led on well from the topic. I would make sure that a completed diagram was available for all to check their results.

Reviewer: Bernard Forrester