Evaporation Laboratory

The purpose of this software is to enable you to experiment with the phenomena of evaporation. Evaporation is important in its own right – for instance, if you understand evaporation you can figure out why a healthy dog’s nose should be cold and wet, and why the ocean’s average temperature hasn’t changed much during the history of the Earth. Understanding evaporation is also important for understanding how weather works, since evaporation is how water gets into the atmosphere. Watching evaporation happen in the real world, however, can be a bit dull – watching paint dry is literally an example of evaporation at work. With a good computer several simulated hours can pass in less than a minute, making it easier to experiment with evaporation.

Here is what the simulator is about. You have a set of cups, all alike in shape and size but made of different materials. The cup on the left is a cardboard cup, the cup on the right is a diamond cup. You can put varying amounts of water in these cups, and vary the temperature of the water.

You can set the cup down in a number of places, such as Chicago or Las Vegas, and come back in a few hours to see what happened. The software automatically monitors certain parameters, and provides tools for graphing these parameters and asking questions about them and about the simulation in general. You can create several simulations, trying different things out to see what happens. Results from your explorations can be saved in a disk file, for further contemplation or for inclusion in a report.

Intended audience:

This software is intended for middle school Earth Science classes and activities.


Underlying technology:

This software is an example of a self-explanatory simulator. Self-explanatory simulators are a result of basic research funded by the Office of Naval Research. Their application to education is being funded by the DARPA CAETI program.