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Now, we're going to have more respect for steam. Place some water in a beaker, and mark the level with a grease pencil.

Bring the water to a boil for several minutes on a hot plate. Remove the beaker from the heat so that the boiling will stop, then check the water level (it will be lower).

Where might the water have gone? Why couldn't you see it?

Now, put the beaker back on the hot plate, and bring the water to a boil again. Hold a mirror in the highest part of the cloud of water vapor for two or three seconds, then remove it. The mirror will have small beads of liquid on it. How did they get there?

If you imagine that the water is made up of atomic particles (atoms or molecules), you might picture the particles as bouncing against each other. When the water is heated, the molecules bounce even harder, and as they hit each other, some strike with a force that causes others to bounce right out of the glass into the air.

If many are bounced out of the container, scientists say that the liquid is evaporating.

Conversely, when heat is removed, the liquid is said to be condensing. The particles do not strike each other with as much force, thus, they are closer together, and form beads.

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