MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Changes in Gas Volume/Gas Laws

Changes in Gas Volume/Gas Laws

Kathy Serratore, Hayfield Elementary, Hayfield MN 55940, based on activity from Holt Science.
Author Profile


In this activity students will observe how temperature affects different types of gases. First students will blow up a round balloon. They will need to measure the circumference in centimeters of the fattest part of the balloon. Then they will put the balloon in the freezer for approximately 30-60 minutes. (A chest freezer tends to work best) They will remove the balloon from the freezer and quickly measure the circumference of the balloon again in centimeters, recording beginning and end results in a journal.

Learning Goals

Students will observe that temperature is a measure of how fast the particles in a object are moving. When the temperature decreases, the gas particles slow down. When the temperature increases the movement of the particles speed up, thus changing the volume or measure in size slightly. This activity can be extended by filling the balloons with helium and repeating the same activity.

Context for Use

This activity is a good homework activity. Students can record their results and share them in class. Discussion about why some balloons show more or less change can lead to discussion of what type of freezer was used, length of time in the freezer, type of measuring tool and accuracy in using the measuring tool. A general discussion of possible variables that would change the outcome is important. When extending the activity to helium, this should be done in class because not everyone has access to helium.

Subject: Chemistry:General Chemistry:Gas Laws, Physics:Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics:Gas Law
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)

Description and Teaching Materials

This activity is to help students learn how temperature affects the behavior of gases. Students will need a round balloon (approx. 9" in size), a tape measure or measuring tool, a freezer.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Some students might not have access to a flexible tape measure to use as a measuring tool. It would be a good idea to show students how to substitute a tape measure by using a ruler and a piece of string since most classes are equipped with plenty of rulers.


Assessment will be done in a journal format and classroom participation.


Physical Science 6.II.A.Structures of Matter

References and Resources