Air Pressure Experiments for Kids

Instructor: Shelby Golden
If you're trying to teach your students or children about air pressure, hands-on experiments can be an entertaining way to get started. Learn about some experiments you can conduct to help kids learn about air pressure while having fun.

Air Strength Experiment

How to Do It

Help your children or students see how strong regular air really is with this simple experiment. You will need:

  • A small cup
  • An index card

Fill the cup about a third of the way with water and place the index card completely over the top, securing it with your hand. Hold the cup over a sink and turn it upside down before removing your hand. Check it out! The card holds the water in the cup.

How It Works

The small amount of water in the cup is actually lighter than the surrounding mass of air, which exerts an ordinary pressure of 14.7 pounds per square inch. Because the water only pushes down with about a pound of force, the air keeps it in the cup. Watch this lesson on the effects of atmospheric pressure to help your students understand the larger effects of air pressure.

Air Pressure Drop Experiment

How to Do It

Use this experiment to help kids understand how lowering the air pressure can affect the surrounding environment. This experiment requires:

  • Two inflated balloons
  • Two pieces of string

Tie a piece of string to each balloon and hold one in each hand. The balloons should be nose-level with you and several inches apart. You just need to blow hard between the balloons and watch them come together!

How It Works

Blowing between the balloons drops the air pressure between them, making the pressure of the surrounding air higher. This increased pressure pushes the balloons together. Study this lesson about Weather Variables: Air Pressure, Temperature & Density to find out how changes in air pressure affect the world on a larger scale, and include this information with the experiment.

Air Pressure Change Experiment

How to Do It

This experiment teaches kids about how much power you can have by changing pressure. You'll need:

  • A 2-liter bottle
  • A straw
  • Clay

This experiment should be conducted somewhere that can get wet, probably outside. You will need to fill the bottle halfway with water, insert the straw and then wrap the clay around the straw until you form a seal. After you've finished this, blow into the bottle as hard as you can before moving back quickly to avoid the incoming water!

How It Works

This experiment works by increasing the air pressure and leaving the water no place to go but up. The increased air pressure pushes on the water and forces it right out of the straw in a surprising, but wet, display. Get a better understanding of pressure and find out how it's measured with this engaging and brief lesson on pressure units and conversions.

Wind Power Experiment

How to Do It

Use this experiment to help children increase their understanding of the power of wind, even when it doesn't work the way they think it will. Gather these supplies:

  • A funnel
  • A ping-pong ball

You'll need to put the ping-pong ball into the funnel and then blow hard at the narrow end. The ball just sinks, no matter how hard you blow!

How It Works

Blowing in the bottom of the funnel will never lift the ping-pong ball because you're lowering the air pressure below the ball. The ball will be pushed down by the higher air pressure above it, despite all your efforts. You can find out how the power associated with air pressure works on a larger scale by shaping the wind with this lesson on How Surface Winds Are Created.

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