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Bernoulli's Principle Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Bernoulli's principle shows that when the speed of a fluid increases, the fluid's pressure or potential energy decreases. This lesson offers activities that will help your students more deeply understand the principle and its relevance.

Teaching Bernoulli's Principle

As a physics teacher or a teacher who incorporates physics into general science instruction, you might be teaching your students about Bernoulli's principle. This is a principle that has to do with fluid dynamics. It states that when the speed of a fluid increases, a decrease in pressure, or in the fluid's potential energy, will simultaneously occur.

To help your students really understand Bernoulli's principle, it can be useful to incorporate activities into your instruction. When you teach science with activities, you have a chance to appeal to different learning styles and let students work from their individual strengths. The activities in this lesson will let your students form a deeper understanding of Bernoulli's principle.

Visual Activities

This section offers activities that will appeal to visual learners, those who learn best when allowed to work with images.

Diagram It

As your students study Bernoulli's principle, it might be helpful to have them create their own diagrams to show how it works. Consider showing students different images first, such as a diagram of a Venturi meter or an image of water running through a pipe. However, when your students go to create their own diagrams, they should work from their mental understanding rather than from outside images.

Have students work alone or with partners to create diagrams that they feel illustrate the principle in action, making sure to label each component of their diagrams. Give them a chance to compare each other's work.

Liquids vs. Gases

Students will come to understand that Bernoulli's principle, and resulting equation, is sometimes relevant to the flow of gases, but that this depends on whether there is a transfer of energy from gas flow to compression or expansion of gas. Ask students to complete a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting liquid flow and gas flow, keeping Bernoulli's principle in mind. They should put at least three items in each section of the Venn Diagram, showing how liquid and gas flow are both similar and different.

Tactile Activities

These activities will be good for learners who like to use their hands and bodies to make sense of new material.

Acting it Out

Though this activity might feel silly, it will be a great way for students to understand why exactly Bernoulli's principle works. Break them into groups of four, and have them use their bodies to act out the flow of air through a Venturi meter. They should show how the increase in kinetic energy leads to a loss of fluid pressure. Let them share their ways of enacting this with their classmates.

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