What Causes Pressure?

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In this kinesthetic activity that demonstrates pressure, learners act as air molecules in a "container" as defined by a rope. Learners explore how air molecules move in different scenarios: added pressure, reduced volume of the container, increased heat, etc. Learners will make "beeps" to help the group measure the pressure and hear the difference between low and high pressure. This is a great way to introduce the concept of air pressure and illustrate how it varies with density and temperature.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
free per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • one long rope
  • a large open area in the classroom or outside


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Motion and Forces
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
      • Volume and Density

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Little Shop of Physics, 2009