"Can" You Stand the Pressure

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In this activity about states of matter, learners get to witness firsthand the awesome power of air pressure. They watch as an ordinary soda can is crushed by invisible forces. This activity is only to be done with adult supervision, as it involves very hot water.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 undamaged, pre-rinsed, empty soda can
  • Large bowl of cool tap water
  • Heat Source (Stove and Frying Pan or Hot Plate)
  • Pot holder
  • Oven mitts


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, COSI Columbus, 2009