The Power of Words

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This simple, yet surprising physics demonstration challenges preconceptions about forces, and demonstrates the strength of atmospheric pressure. Learners will observe as the demonstrator attempts to use a sheet of newspaper to keep a ruler on the table while it is hit. Learners will compare what happens when the paper is folded, crumpled, and left flat on the ruler. This instruction guide includes a helpful video illustrating each step of the demonstration.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per group of students)

  • table with flat edge
  • ruler
  • newspaper


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Institute of Physics,