What is Steam? - Simple Science
Quatr.us answers questions


Hot Springs
Swimming in natural hot springs in Iceland

When water gets very hot, it boils and turns into steam. This happens at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. The water turns into steam because you (or something else: in the picture it is the volcano nearby) is adding energy in the form of heat to the water.

As the water molecules get more energy from the heat, they move faster and faster. When they get enough energy, they jump right out of the water and into the air. Once they are in the air, still hot and moving fast, they bump against each other and other molecules in the air so much that they quickly move apart from each other. That's why steam takes up more room than water.

When steam forms underneath rocks, for instance inside a volcano, it can move so fast and so hard that it pushes the rocks apart.

Learn by doing - tea kettles and steam

Bibliography and further reading about steam:

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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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