Gas Model

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This highly visual model demonstrates the atomic theory of matter which states that a gas is made up of tiny particles of atoms that are in constant motion, smashing into each other. Balls, representing molecules, move within a cage container to simulate this phenomenon. A hair dryer provides the heat to simulate the heating and cooling of gas: the faster the balls are moving, the hotter the gas. Learners observe how the balls move at a slower rate at lower "temperatures."

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 12 or more Styrofoam balls, approximately 1-1/4 inches (3 cm) in diameter (available in craft or fabric stores), or table tennis balls
  • A paintbrush
  • Latex paint
  • A small rodent cage with wire mesh on all sides (Two plastic strawberry baskets or utility baskets with open grid sides may also be put together to form a cage.)
  • Short pieces of wire or twist ties
  • A hair dryer, fan, or other blower


  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Rate
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Thermodynamics and Entropy
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • California Department of Education
  • NEC Foundation of America