Feeling Pressured

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In this activity, learners (at least three) work together to explore the effects of atmospheric pressure. A learner (at least 100 lbs) will step inside an extra large trash bag, while another reduces the air pressure in the bag slightly with a vacuum cleaner. The bag will squeeze the occupant due to the differences in external and internal pressure.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Extra large, heavy duty garbage bag (55 gallon size)
  • Industrial strength vacuum cleaner (10 to 12 amp) with hose


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Muller, Eric


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 1998

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