Clouds Suck! is a talk I wrote to try to bring together two of the things I love most in life – flying and science. For years I’ve taught particles, changes of state and heat transfer through the context of gliding but I wanted a vehicle through which I could break out off syllabus a little and teach some thermodynamics and to share some stories of how it affects the weather, pilots and current chemistry research.

The talk was delivered at the 2011 Cheltenham Science Festival but has changed a fair amount since then. It is best suited to groups of 20-40 KS4 students or able KS3 students in a lab where I can get around to show some of the small scale demonstrations to them. Larger audiences will require AV support to be able to see some of the demos through a camera.

The talk has since been delivered in schools in Swindon, Wiltshire, Bath NES and Gloucestershire with requests to return to deliver it again.


This is how it was billed at Cheltenham …

Clouds Suck! explores water’s crazy relationship with pressure and temperature. What do pressure cookers, hot air balloons and bicycle pumps have to do with cloud formation? Find out why soup explodes in the microwave, how seaweed affects the weather and how to make a raisin disco! Clouds Suck! is a beginners guide to thermodynamics with lots of demonstrations on heat transfer, pressure and nucleation. You can find out how clouds suck and why it can be so dangerous. Both talks can be adapted to suit any secondary audience


Here’s the Prezi I deliver from. Pop me an email if you want more information


I made a video of my flying holiday in Sept 2010 which I hope in some way communicates how special it can be being up there in the clouds. No video can aver communicate the movements in the air up there though – it feels like clouds are living, breathing organisms .. there changes in the air resulting from the energy transfers taking place there are both beautiful and intimidating!