Cleaning Air with Balloons

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Learners observe a simple balloon model of an electrostatic precipitator. These devices are used for pollutant recovery in cleaning industrial air pollution. Combine this activity with other activities to form a larger lesson. Resource contains suggestions for assessment, extensions, and scaling for different levels of learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (or small bits of paper)
  • 1 balloon
  • 1 sheet of white paper
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 piece of plastic (PVC) tubing, 3-5 ft. long, 2.5 in. diameter
  • 1 plastic shopping bag
  • 1 sheet of white paper


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electromagnetic Fields
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kolenbrander, Amy ; Yowell, Janet ; Mach, Natalie ; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda ; Carlson, Denise ; Perez, Sharon ; Frank, Gwendolyn

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2004

Funding Sources:

  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • National Science Foundation, 0226322