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Turning the Air Upside Down: Warm Air is Less Dense than Cool Air


Source Institutions

    Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder

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Turning the Air Upside Down: Warm Air is Less Dense than Cool Air

Learners cover a bottle with a balloon. When they immerse the bottle in warm water, the balloon inflates. When they immerse the bottle in a bowl of ice, the balloon deflates. Learners understand that warm air is less dense than cool air (it has the same mass, but more volume). This is one of three demonstrations investigating convection currents and their effects on weather and air pollution. Resource contains vocabulary definitions and suggestions for assessment, extensions, and scaling for different levels of learners.

Quick Guide


Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration

Language:
English

Materials List (per group of students)


  • 1 empty, two-liter plastic bottle
  • 1 balloon
  • 1 large bowl
  • Hot water
  • Ice

Subjects


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density

Audience


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Other


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access

By:

  • Kolenbrander, Amy; Yowell, Janet; Mach, Natalie; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda; Carlson, Denise; Kotys-Schwartz, Daria

Source Collection:

  • TeachEngineering

Rights:

  • 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

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