Air – a Pressing Matter

Students are in for a surprise when they attempt to lift a mat that is held in place by only the air that is pressing down from above

Grades covered: 4 through 12
Curriculum Topics: Air Pressure, Atmosphere, Weather


Idea Sheets are cross-referenced to subjects listed in the Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and California Content Standards.

Common Standards Click to View

Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. [Examples: the influence of the ocean, of the atmosphere; & of mountain ranges] ||Next Generation Science Standards||Grade 5||Earth and Space Science||Earth’s Systems |||Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen. [ Examples: adding air to expand a basketball, compressing air in a syringe, dissolving sugar in water, & evaporating salt water.]||Next Generation Science Standards||Grade 5||Physical Science||Matter and its Interactions|||Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object & the mass of the object.||Next Generation Science Standards||Middle School||Physical Science||Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions |||Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, & its acceleration. [Objects subject to a net unbalanced force, e.g., an object falling , rolling down a ramp, or a moving- pulled by a constant force.]||Next Generation Science Standards||High School||Physical Science||Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

California Standards (Click to View)

1.g. Properties of solid, liquid, and gaseous substances, such as sugar (C6H12O6), water (H2O), helium (He), oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2), and carbon dioxide (CO2).||CA Science||Grade 5||01. Physical Sciences||1. Elements and their combinations account for all the varied types of matter in the world.|||4.e. The Earth’s atmosphere exerts a pressure that decreases with distance above the Earth’s surface, and is the same in all directions.||CA Science||Grade 5||03. Earth Sciences||4. Energy from the sun heats the Earth unevenly, causing air movements resulting in changing weather patterns.|||4.e. Differences in pressure, heat, air movement, and humidity result in changes of weather.||CA Science||Grade 6||04. Energy in the Earth System||4. Many phenomena on the Earth’s surface are affected by the transfer of energy through radiation and convection currents.

Categories include:
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Physical Science
  • Grades 3-5
  • Grades 6-8
  • Science
Tags: Matter, Forces & Motion, Earth Systems
Subjects covered: ["Earth\/Space Science","Physical Science"]