Does air have weight?

The purpose of this hands-on activity is to demonstrate that air has weight and how this fact can be concretely illustrated. Eventually and through more experience gained by conducting mind-engaging activities, the learner will come to a basic understanding that a given volume of air at higher elevations is less dense and has fewer molecules per volume than a similar volume at lower elevations.

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Arlene Levine
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Balances found in most schools could be used to demonstrate same concrete understanding of air having weight as building a pivotal balance. Building the scientific tool could also be beneficial, but is not essential to lesson understanding.

Build a test version of the apparatus ahead of instruction to see where students might have trouble.

Make sure to give students safety tips on how to handle a hammer and nails, and advise them to also wear safety goggles.

Ask students to come up with ideas on how they could determine if air weighs anything before they conduct this investigation.

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