Try this simple investigation to explore the effects of air pressure

This resource is also available in Welsh and Irish

This experiment focuses on air pressure, and can help develop learners’ understanding of forces, gravity and the properties of air. Watch the video of the ‘leaky bottle’ demonstration below, and then find out how your learners can explore air pressure themselves using rulers and newspaper.

Learning objectives

  • To develop a simple definition of pressure in terms of force.
  • To develop an awareness that the air around us exerts pressure on the objects it comes into contact with.
  • To appreciate, through practical experimentation, that although air pressure is not often felt, its actions can be seen and explained.

Watch the video

The video below shows how to carry out the ‘leaky bottle’ demonstration.

Source: Royal Society of Chemistry

Investigate gases and atmospheric pressure with the Leaky Bottle experiment.

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


What do learners need to know first?

Learners should already know that force is a push or a pull and that area is the space occupied by a flat shape or an object’s surface.

Equipment list

Leaky bottle demonstration (or per group if desired):

  • Plastic water bottle with screw-top lid
  • Map/push pin
  • Plastic tray to catch excess water
  • Water to fill bottle

Main investigation (each group will need):

  • 30 cm ruler
  • Two identical sheets of newspaper
  • Clear table top with a straight edge

Additional resources