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Kids bored at home? Try this experiment exploring air pressure

This easy experiment explores air pressure.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's been a long week of at-home learning for all kids in West Michigan, so if your kiddos are in the need of something fun and educational -- check out this experiment. It only require a few items and most of them you will likely already have at home!


*This experiment requires adult supervision in handling open flames.

Items you'll need:

  • Jar
  • Balloon
  • Piece of Paper
  • Matches or Lighter
  • Safety Goggles


  1. Blow balloon up to just wider than the open jar and tie end. For best results, fill a water balloon with water.
  2. Light piece of paper and drop in the jar.
  3. Quickly top jar with balloon. 
  4. Balloon will either get partially lodged in the jar or drop in completely. Balloons filled with water yield the best results. 

How it works

This experiment models the movement of air pressure. 

Air pressure is the measure of weight above us in the air. Differences in air pressure are caused by differences in temperature. 

Before the experiment begins, the air pressure in the jar and the environment around it are the same. One important thing to know: Air molecules always flow from high pressure to low pressure. 

Once added, the flame in the jar quickly decreases the air pressure inside. The balloon on top prevents air from moving in. The pressure difference builds and becomes so great the balloon is eventually forced into the jar. 



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