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| Where Homework and the Internet Meet: LAUNCH POINT


April 14, 1999

What is an incredibly efficient way to transport large quantities of water over long distances? Clouds. Composed of water droplets, ice crystals and air, clouds are an important part of the earth's water cycle, and they offer important clues to predicting the weather. To learn more about clouds, use the direct links on the Times' Launch Point Web site:

Here are the best sites for getting your schoolwork done or for just having fun.

Level 1

The Cloud Case: Tag along with air detective Mike Breezy as he learns how condensation creates clouds. Try an experiment with Professor Less in which you create a cloud within a bottle, and even take an online quiz to test your knowledge of clouds.

Weather Forecasting: How can looking at clouds help you predict the weather? Find out how tall, dark, fluffy cumulonimbus clouds can bring rain, thunder and lightning while wispy cirrus clouds are a sign of fair weather.

Observing Cloud Types: Clouds can be categorized by how far from the ground they are: low (below 6,500 feet), middle (6,500-23,000 feet) or high (above 23,000 feet). Learn how to identify 10 types of clouds by looking at their formations and proximity to the earth.

Level 2

Cloud Catalog: How do cold fronts affect cloud formation? What kinds of clouds can lead to tornadoes? Find out through this helpful series of articles that includes many photos, diagrams and even a glossary.

Clouds: Why do clouds appear white and skies blue? What do you call rain that evaporates before it hits the ground? Find out through this photo tour of clouds.

Welcome to the Clouds! At any time, clouds cover 60% of the earth. Find out how clouds can warm or cool the earth and how clouds are part of the water cycle.

Level 3

Clouds and Precipitation: Learn how clouds develop into many sizes and types and how rain, snow, sleet and hail fall from the clouds.

USA Today: All About Clouds: "Nephelococcygia" is a big word for the practice of discovering familiar shapes, like animals, in cloud formations. Learn about cloud seeding, how clouds influence weather and how different types of clouds form.

Clouds From Space: Scientists are studying clouds to see if there is a decrease in cumulus storm clouds and an increase in high-level cirrus clouds as a result of global warming. Find out what scientists can determine about weather conditions by looking at cloud pictures taken from space.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Janice Dove, Carrie Schneider, Erin Wilhoit and Anna Manring.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

What is the difference between a cloud particle and a raindrop?

CLUE: See Welcome to the Clouds--The Water Cycle

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 80 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: A boy born into nobility would start his apprenticeship for knighthood first as a page, then as a squire.

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