Investigating Atmospheric Pressure with a Cup, Straw and Water
In this classroom lab activity, students will work with a plastic cup, straw, and drinking water to gain a better understanding of how atmospheric pressure works. This activity should be used with FOSS unit Weather and Water investigation 8 part 1.
2. Students will be able to see how an imbalance in the atmosphere causes a change in the environment.
Context for Use
Class Size: 25 students
Resource Type: Classroom lab activity
Time needed: 15 minutes
Equipment needed: (one for each student) plastic see through cup, straw, water, paper, and pencil
Previous Knowledge: students should have an idea that atmosphere exists all around us. They should also know that atmosphere is pressing on all things on Earth at all times and in all directions.
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Weather, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science
Description and Teaching Materials
One possible solution: place your mouth over the straw and pull the atmosphere out of the straw. Once the atmosphere is removed from the straw, it is unbalanced. The water then rushes into the straw to fill the void left by the atmosphere.
Once students have their results, pull them back together as a large group to discuss what just happened. Go beyond the idea of "I sucked the water through the straw" and get more into the discussion of "by placing your mouth over the straw and pulling out the atmosphere, it left the environment unbalanced. Because Earth strives to keep everything in balance, the water rushes in to fill the void left by the removed atmosphere. That is why water moves up the straw."
Teaching Notes and Tips
Review how the students explained what happened in their cup environments and why.