Take your learners’ understanding of forces further with this simple investigation exploring air pressure and gravity

This experiment focuses on how air pressure can overcome gravity. First watch the ‘anti-gravity bottle’ demonstration video, then find out how your learners can investigate air pressure using cups, water and cardboard. 

Learning objectives

  • To understand that we notice the force of air when it moves objects, but particles of air are moving all the time and create forces that we usually don’t notice.
  • To appreciate that air creates a force and this force acts in all directions, not just ‘downward’ towards Earth.
  • To learn that when we consider force of air over a specific area, we call this air pressure.
  • To understand that air pressure of a sufficient magnitude acting upwards on an object can overcome the effects of gravity.

Enquiry skills:

  • Making predictions, observations and comparisons.

Watch the video

The video below shows how to carry out the ‘anti-gravity bottle’ demonstration.

Source: Royal Society of Chemistry

Demonstrate the power of atmospheric pressure to make an anti-gravity bottle with primary students.

Download the supporting materials

Set up and run the investigation with your class using the teacher notes and classroom slides, featuring a full equipment list, method, key words and definitions, questions for learners, FAQs and more.

Teacher notes

PDF | Editable Word document

Classroom slides

PDF | Editable PowerPoint document

DOWNLOAD ALL

What do learners need to know first?

Learners should be able to articulate that a force is a push or pull which acts on objects. They should also be familiar with gravity being a type of force that pulls objects towards the Earth.

Learners should be aware of what ‘area’ means (a measure of surface covered), particularly in relation to rectangles and squares.

Equipment list

  • A drinking glass or tumbler – this can be made of a hard plastic but not one which will ‘crush’ in the hand
  • A flat piece of card that will fit over, and extend beyond, the opening of the glass
  • Water to fill the glass
  • A deep sided tray or basin to catch spillages

Additional resources

 

Downloads