This week, Jane ran a very succesful new activity about air pressure. To start the activity, Jane lead a discussion about air and did a demonstration using a notecard to seal an inverted cup of water. This demonstration really surprised the girls and lead to an interesting discussion about how air molecules are pushing on the bottom of the notecard (although there are other forces involved, we kept it elementary school level).
After the demonstration, the girls split into two stations to learn about air pressure:
- Build a Hovercraft
- Balloon Race
At the hovercraft station, the girls constructed their own hovercrafts using a balloon, a CD, a bottle cap (with a small hole already through the top), and a glue gun. One at a time, the girls used the glue gun to connect the cap to the center of the CD. This was actually really fun because many of the girls had never used a glue gun, so as some side science, we learned how the glue gun works and how to use it safely. Then, we blew up the balloons, twisted the balloon so no air leaked, and connected the balloon to the bottle cap. When the balloon untwists, this creates a hovercraft that feels very similar to a hockey puck on an air hockey table. Then, we placed pennies on the hovercrafts too measure the strength of the air pressure.
At the balloon race station, the girls blew up balloons and attached them to the “racing track”, which was a cylinder paper around a string. When the full balloon was released, the balloon flew along the string, demonstrating how the air leaving the balloon generates enough force to move the balloon along the track. This was really fun, and lead to some exciting balloon races! We also tried the races with different shaped balloons, which were a big hit.
Overall, this was an awesome activity!