High and Low Pressure
In this classroom activity, students will discuss and also have a hands on reference for high and low pressure. Air movement can be confusing for students to conceptualize. This activity will help with understanding high and low pressure behavior.
1. Describe a high pressure area.
2. Describe a low pressure area.
3. Identify a front.
4. Explain why a high pressure area seeks a low pressure area.
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Weather, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science
Description and Teaching Materials
Balloons, scissors or pins
ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:
1. Tell the class to imagine that all of the students in every class in the school were tightly packed into their classroom with standing room only. All doors and windows were closed. This room would then be a high pressure area.
2. Now imagine that there is no one in the hall outside the classroom. It is totally empty. The hall is then a low pressure area.
3. Someone opens the door. Where then would the students in the classroom want to go? Where does high pressure want to go? Yes, out the door or to a low pressure area.
4 Discuss the occurrence at the doorway. Could the flow be slow and easy? Fast and furious?
5. Now imagine that some students were moving from right to left or in a counterclockwise direction in the hallway. As the students moved out of the classroom, they were allowed to exit only by moving left to right or in a clockwise direction. Ask for ideas about what might happen... pile ups (clouds), bumping and rubbing or friction happening (lightning)...
6. Have students blow up balloons in pairs. They will leave a peak in the top of the balloon. Instruct them to tie the end and remain holding it securely. The second student will then either cut off the peak (anvil cloud) or prick it with a pin. The student holding the balloon will release it simultaneously. This activity represents a cumulonimbus cloud. The peak of the balloon represents the part of the cloud that becomes the anvil that occurs when jet stream passes over and may cause a tornado like the one they just experienced.
7. Students may actively participate by wearing signs indicating they are part of the high or low area. They would then move in the clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Other students could represent the front that occurs where they meet.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:
1. Use newspaper weather maps to give students practice in predicting the weather.
2. Allow students to examine an aneroid barometer.
3. Students will then build their own barometer with pop cans and straws.
4. Design a map with an imaginary area showing highs and lows. Each student must predict the weather for the spot marked "X" on the map and explain in several sentences using the correct vocabulary why he/she believes his/her prediction to be correct.
This lesson and information is based off of a lesson by Shirley Gaug, Anthony Elementary, Anthony, KS.
Teaching Notes and Tips
Here are a few:
What will the weather be? By Lynda DeWitt
Wind and air pressure by Alan Rodgers, Angella Streluk
Air (Science Alive! Series)by Darlene Lauw, Lim Cheng Puay
I haven't yet used this lesson but I personally wouldn't use the pin option unless the kids would be responsible with them. It is an option and could give different results, but safety is an issue.