Back to the basics: The phases of water

KOIN 6 Weather Kids

Editor’s note: The KOIN 6 Weather team is presenting weather and science lessons to help serve our teachers and students as schools close across the nation amid the novel coronavirus response. Click here for more lessons, and click here for complete coverage.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Now, this is a lesson that will get all your ducks in order about the phases of water. You may not think about it very often, but water is such a magnificent part of our earth.

It can be in the form of a liquid, solid and gas. Today we will learn about each and the processes that occur when you change phases.

First let’s discuss the states of matter. When we look at a column of many H­2O molecules, the three states of matter are quite different. In a gas state, water vapor is able to move about with ease and interact with other molecules. Now these molecules will move faster with a higher temperature.

Conversely, you have a solid state where molecules move very slow. They will continue to move slower as the temperature becomes colder. If you look at the solid column, the molecules are connected and rigid. They don’t move around freely and they are organized.

What is in between the solid and gas state? You’ve guessed it, the liquid state. In this column, the molecules are close together and constantly moving around and bumping a bit.


Water Vapor

Now that we understand the basic states of matter and phases of water, we can add some additional terms. We can now learn about the transition from one phase to the next with what I like to call the phase maze, which is below:


Freezing: When liquid turns to ice. You can apply this to the freezing of water. When the temperature is equal or less than 32° (0°C).

Melting: When ice changes to a liquid state. You can think of ice turning to water.

Sublimation: The phase where ice changes directly to vapor.

Deposition: When water vapor changes directly to an ice (may use sublimation).

Condensation: This is when water vapor turns to a liquid state. You can think of water vapor that changes to dew, fog, or cloud.

Evaporation: When liquid turns to a gas state. This is also the way that water is returned to the water cycle that you learned in a previous lesson.

Now you can take all the terms above and think about them in every day life. What happens when the ground is wet in the winter and the temperature drops to freezing? What is going on in the summer when your glass of lemonade is perspiring? How about when you start boiling water?

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