High & Low Air Pressure Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Tammie Mihet

Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology

Did you know that air has weight? That's right, and that weight is what we call air pressure! In this lesson, investigate high and low pressure, and find out how they affect our weather.

Air Pressure… It's Everywhere

Do you ever get energetic and really hyper? Well guess what, air molecules get hyper too and love to bounce around! This excitement coupled with the force of gravity causes air molecules to have weight and put pressure on everything they touch. This is what we call air pressure, or the force exerted, or applied, on a surface because of the weight of air. Measuring the amount of air pressure in an area is what allows meteorologists, or people who study weather, to predict the weather.

To try to visualize air pressure, imagine for a moment that air is like a giant hand pushing down on earth. Sometimes this giant hand puts a lot of pressure on earth and sometimes it puts a little. When this giant hand exerts a high amount of pressure, it holds the air molecules down and won't let them float up. As the giant hand exerts less pressure, the air molecules are able to float high up into the air. Keep this picture of a giant hand in your mind as we look more closely at 'high pressure' and 'low pressure.'

High Pressure

When air molecules exert a lot of pressure on the surface of earth, meteorologists call this a high pressure area. Meteorologists then use that information to predict the weather. How do they do this? Well, to fully understand this you have to think about the water cycle. Remember in the water cycle, water on earth evaporates into the sky, condenses into clouds, and eventually falls back to earth as precipitation. So, in order for it to eventually rain, you need water to evaporate into the sky!

Water Cycle
Water Cycle

Let's think about that hand again. In a high pressure area that hand would be exerting a great amount of pressure and would hold everything down towards earth. If air pressure is holding everything down, then water would not be able to evaporate into the sky. If you don't have evaporation, you don't have condensation… bye, bye clouds! If you don't have clouds, you don't have precipitation! Hence, if a meteorologist uses a barometer, a tool used to measure the air pressure, and sees that it will be a high pressure day, he/she can predict that it will be a sunny, clear sky day!

High Pressure Area
High Pressure

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