| Weight Lifter - An air pressure experiment
Earlier this year, my class
was taking part in a science unit on air and weather. For
the school science fair, I decided to teach a lesson on air
by Katy Gustafson
Location: PS 40 in District 16
Grade: 1st grade
you have any questions regarding this activity, please contact
Katy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- To discover whether or not air
had the strength to lift heavy objects.
- To learn and gain cooperative
learning and group skills.
- Clear plastic fruit and vegetable
or bread bags.
- Regular sized drinking straws
- A box of heavy books
- An experiment sheet (see below)
- Each team created a hypothesis
about what they thought would happen
if the air was blown in the bags and the writer/drawer recorded
it on the experiment sheet (they all thought the air would NOT
be strong enough to lift the books).
- The class was divided into four
teams of five students each. Each member of the team had a job:
- 1 person to take notes and
fill out the experiment sheet
- 1 person to be the straw blower
- 1 person to be the "getter"
(bring all the supplies to their team members)
- 2 people as observer/reporters
- Each team received their materials:
a plastic bag that was tied shut at the end with a straw poking
through (I put the end of the straw in the bag, and wrapped scotch
tape around it to seal it. This works fairly well, although bags
will occasionally fly off), a box of heavy books, and an experiment
sheet on which they had to record their findings.
- I explained that the bag had to
be placed on the table with just the straw hanging off the edge.
The box of books would be placed on the bag and when I said, "Go,"
they had to blow into the straw to see if the air from their lungs
could lift the box of books.
- The getters got the supplies and
we set up the experiment. When I said, "Go," all of the blowers
began to blow. To their surprise, all of the boxes of books were
lifted off the table. The observer/reporters took turns explaining
what happened and the writer/drawers recorded the results.
We discussed what happened
in the experiment, and talked about other ways that we see the strength
of air. An example I gave to the class was that heavy cars are supported
by the strength of the air in their tires.
My class loved this experiment and they learned a lot from it. By
cooperative learning I mean children working in small groups with
each other (working cooperatively). They need to be able to equally
share responsibilities, discuss their predictions and findings with
each other and come to a consensus. The students were able to work
together very well in their teams. I think that part of what made
the group work so effective was that each person had an individual
job within the team. This enabled them to feel that they were doing
something important on their own, while working successfully in
a group. To top it all off, we won first place in the first grade
division of the science fair at our school, and second place in
air pressure strong enough to lift heavy objects?
Procedure: Wrap the opening of a plastic bag snugly around
the end of a straw. Put the bag on a table with the straw hanging
off the edge. Put a stack of heavy books on top of the bag. Blow
air from your lungs into the bag. If air pressure has strength,
it will lift the books. If air pressure does not have strength,
the books will stay flat on the table.
Hypothesis: What do you think will happen to the books when
you blow air into the bag?
Conduct the experiment.
Draw a picture of what you observed.
Outcome and Conclusions: