Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Atmospheric Pressure- Heavy, Man!

There are days when we go about our homeschooling journey just doing the deal. Bible, spelling, language arts, math, science, social studies, etc.  It's always good, but there are days when we learn something new or do an activity that is GREAT! Today was one of those days!

The last couple days we've been trying to wrap our heads around atmospheric pressure.  Wow!  Atmospheric pressure is a mind-bender for me.  Here's why:

The atmosphere is constantly pressing down on planet Earth.  If we were to break the weight of the atmosphere down, we'd see that it weighs 14.7 pounds per square inch, at sea level.  Since we're at sea level we learned that the weight of the atmosphere pressing down on our shoulders is roughly 176 pounds!  This is some heavy atmospheric pressure!  With the weight of the world on our shoulders, no wonder there are days we feel so Under Pressure!

{off on a tangent}

Watching that video and seeing David Bowie reminded me, we saw Iman the other day...she waved!  I wasn't doing a very good with my photo skills that's the photo.  This is why I don't work for TMZ!

Iman is behind Maria Menounos
Okay, back to science and atmospheric pressure education.

Thinking about the 176 pounds of atmospheric pressure on our shoulders has sparked some great conversation and deep thought.  Trying to explain to the kids that although the air outside their body is pushing in on them, the air inside their body is pushing out therefore counteracting the air pressure outside their bodies. 

Whew!  That's a lot to comprehend!

Let's Experiment

As mentioned in earlier posts, we follow Apologia Science.  In our study, there was an experiment demonstrating atmospheric pressure.  

We had two soda cans with a little water in each.  We heated the cans in a frying pan on the stove.  Next to the stove we had two bowls of ice water.  We were supposed to heat the cans until there was steam coming out.  When this occurred we were to place one can in an ice-water bowl.  The other was to be inverted in the ice water bowl.  After doing this we were supposed to watch atmospheric pressure in action.

Honestly, we had to do the experiment about 4-5 times.  I've mentioned in the past how I tend to be scientifically challenged, but we didn't give up!

Experiment: Take 1, Hansen's can

Ice water ready

Take 2, Hansen's can

Water still ready...

Hansen's can...Take 3 (yawn)

Nothing happening...

Still nothing happening....

Take 4:  Coca-Cola can

On our final try, the experiment was a huge SUCCESS!  We were so excited we took A LOT of photos!  How incredibly cool!  The kids loved it!  It was an experiment I hope really taught them about the pressure in the atmosphere.

There is steam...time to transfer to the water bowl

Inverting the can

Don't blink!

BAM!  It happened so fast!

Check this out!


The kids love this kind of hands-on science!

So cool!

So why did this happen?  

When the can was on the stove the heat caused the water in the can to boil.  The steam from the water pushed the air out of the can.  When we inverted the can and placed it in the bowl, the steam quickly changed back to liquid.  Because the steam had pushed the air out of the can earlier, there was no air pressure inside to counteract the atmospheric pressure outside the can.  When we inverted placed the can opening under the water the outside air crushed the can.  There's the can crusher!  Atmospheric Pressure.  GREAT!


OSUZIEQ1 said...

When I became a scuba diver, we had to undergo a similar experiment with underwater pressure. Look up how to simulate the pressure if scuba diving.

Kimberly said...

We'll check it out! Suzie, you do EVERYTHING! Amazing!