Questions for ‘Cool Jobs: Head in the clouds’

Some scientists find plenty of questions to study by just looking up into the clouds.


To accompany feature “Cool Jobs: Head in the clouds”


Before Reading:

1.  When you look up at the sky and see clouds, what comes to mind? What do clouds mean to you?

2.  Winds can kick up clouds of dust. How far do you think that those clouds can travel? Explain your answer.

During Reading: 

1.  What are marine low clouds? Where can they be found?

2.  Why does Paquita Zuidema study marine low clouds? Based on what you read in the story, why are these clouds important?

3.  What two factors are necessary for marine low clouds to form?

4.  Why did Zuidema travel to remote Ascension Island?

5.  Why are people leaving the town of Sidi Ifni in Morocco?

6.  What are three problems with current methods of catching water from fog?

7.  Why are the coatings that Catarina Esteves creates called “smart”?

8.  Why did scientists think that bacteria in dust from the Sahara wouldn’t survive a trip across the Atlantic?

9.  What is a petri dish?

10.  How long does it take for microbes from the Sahara to travel to North America?

After Reading: 

1.  How has this story changed your views about clouds? Describe three things you found new and how they may have surprised you.

2.  Come up with a scientific question about clouds or fog. Now describe how you would design an experiment to answer that question.


1.  On a map, locate Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. How far away is the coast of southern Africa?

2.  On a map, locate the town of Sidi Ifni in Morocco. How far is the nearest river?

3.  Dust from the Sahara can travel across the Atlantic and show up in Florida. About how far has that dust traveled?