Principles of Air Pressure

3.7 based on 15 ratings

Updated on Mar 17, 2010


Physical Science


4th - 6th grade

Difficulty of Project



$2 per student

Safety Issues


Material Availability

Easy; materials can be easily obtained

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project (Including analysis and write-up)

1 hour

What is the project about?

The air pressure project is designed to teach students the concept of air pressure in a fun way.

What are the goals?

The goals of the air pressure project are to engage students in a fun activity while teaching them the basic principles of air pressure.

What materials are required?
  • String (20 feet per student or group)
  • Balloon (1 per student or group)
  • Straw (1 per student or group)
  • Tape
Where can the materials be found?

Most materials can be found at an art store or all-purpose store (such as Target)

  • What is air pressure?
  • What does compressed air mean (high or low pressure?)
  • When a balloon is blown up, what is the change in air pressure inside the balloon?

For the parent/student, what terms and concepts are required to better understand the project?

The concept of air pressure is essential to this project. The terms force, air molecules, weight, space, and volume should be reviewed.

  1. First find an area that you can conduct this experiment in. You will want about 20 feet or more of space.
  2. Tie one end of the string to a desk or chair or door knob (you will need to tie the other end to another object of the same height and at a distance of about 20 feet).
  3. Cut the plastic straw to about 3 inches long.
  4. Insert the string into the plastic straw.
  5. Tie the other end of the string to another desk, chair, door knob, etc. The string should be pulled tight for about 20 feet, and the straw should move easily from one side of the string to the other.
  6. Blow up a balloon, and pinch the end closed (do not tie off the end).
  7. Tape the balloon to the straw (you may need two people for this part; one person to hold the balloon closed and the other person to tape the balloon to the straw).
  8. Ensure the area around the string is clear.
  9. Let go of the balloon.
  10. Record observations.

Bibliography / References to related books / Links to related sites on the web

Brooke Greco graduated from UC Berkeley, and has volunteered her time with several after-school learning programs over the last several years. Brooke served as a Citizen's Schools Teacher in Redwood City, CA, where she taught a course on the rain forest. In addition, Brooke served as a teacher at the New Era Galapagos Foundation and taught English and conservation practices to local youth of the Galapagos Islands.

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