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Grade: Middle
Subject: Science

#1381. Native Americans

Science, level: Middle
Posted Mon Nov 1 09:15:07 PST 1999 by j savage (
Are you under Pressure?
Argyle MS, Silver Spring, MD
Materials Required: paper, limited household or lab materials
Activity Time: 2-6 classroom hours
Concepts Taught: The atmosphere pushes down on everyone

On-line lesson at:

Objective: To teach students about the power of atmospheric pressure.
Site Index:
Preliminary Investigation (Opening activity/Engagement)
Lesson Investigations (labs)
Internet Research links
Do you want more Labs?
Other favorite activities
Curriculum Content and Outcomes
Teacher Resources

Site Content: This is series of laboratory investigations that can be conducted at home or in a classroom with limited equipment and time. The series of investigations is designed to give students a more complete understanding of how air pressure (and thereby all pressure systems) influence the environment.
Practical experience has shown that students do not always get a clear understanding of pressure from observing only one or two examples. Complete understanding and the ability to use the understanding to predict the results of pressure changes comes from observing the effects of pressure in a number of different activities. This list of investigations provides teachers or parents with a resource to assist students in understanding this difficult concept. Activites are provided with each investigation accompanied by grading rubrics.

Preliminary Investigation
I have found that students often do not know that air (gases) are matter. They often believe that air is non-existant or that it has no mass. Some even believe that air is energy. I have included introductory activities to improve background knowledge that you might find useful on the Teacher Resource Page. I have also provided a discussion model for use in opening this unit/series of laboratory investigations (procedure) .

These are links to a series of labs that are fun, quick, and easily understandable for middle and high school students. These labs are recommended for use to demonstrate gas laws and how they relate to the atmosphere and meteorology (weather). Some can be done at home with few materials; others require some laboratory equipment.
Investigations requiring only household items readily available:
Broken pencil or broken ruler
Candle and water
Expanding/Shrinking bottle
Card Tricks
A can of air
Dry Paper Towel
Go suck on an egg
Surprise! Surprise!

The Investigation below require the use of a bell jar and vacuum pump:
Magdeburg Hemispheres (Otto von Guericke)
Shaving Cream
Rising/Sinking water (Barometer simulation)
Boiling water
Sparkling Cider
Clock in a Jar (Sound Propagation using Teasure Zone)

These labs are related to the science field of Chemistry. Want to learn more about Chemistry?
Science Projects at the Teasure Zone "Chem Place"
Other fun Stuff from the Teasure Zone

Additional Internet Research Links TOP of page
The following are some additional internet links that provide information on pressure or air pressure that you might like to investigate. Most labs above have links to Web sites that are associated with the particular aspect of pressure that is being investigated:
Definition of pressure or here
Atmospheric Pressure or here
Definition of Atmospheric Pressure
Our atmosphere and the gas laws
Slide show on gases and atmosphere
Air pressure and weather (characteristics of air) or here
Air pressure and weather maps or here
Air pressure and wind
Toricelli's barometer and air pressure defined and here
How often does air pressure change and by how much?
Gas laws and pressure or here
Perfect vs Ideal Gas
Combined Gas Law
Avagadro's hypothesis
Heat and Gas
Scuba divers and gas laws (Boyles Law)
Gas Law resource
Molecular Physics and Gas Laws
Comercial Pressure Measurement Instruments
Auto Carburetion and air pressure
Science Project (on line)
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Agency (NOAA)
Other fun labs, models, definitions or examples of pressure
Air dissolved in water (discussion and chart)
boiling water and air pressure (discussion and pictures)
crushing the can (Lab)
How does air pressure affect skin divers? (discussion)
Ears pop when altitude changes (discussion and formula)
Barometer (description and graphic)
Altitude vs pressure (discussion and chart)
Frozen air (Charles Law)
Underwater balloon (Boyle's Law)
What happens when you submerge a can? (calculator on line)
Sitting on nails
Use a CBL to study gas laws
More, and more, and more and more labs
Boyle's Law
Charles' Law
Gas Law
Ideal Gas