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AIR IS THERE
Grades K-5

Students will observe air and some of its properties, such as it has mass, takes up space, can move things, and rises when heated. A video will be used to reinforce their observations and to show interesting uses of air, such as sailing, raising a roof, and parachuting. Students will use the science process skills of observing, hypothesizing, experimenting, measuring, and recording data. The lesson will take approximately two hours and can be broken up into shorter segments.
3-2-1 Classroom Contact, #21: Air is Matter: Air is There
Students will:
For the class:

For each group of 4 students:

For each student:

Make a web showing information about air that students know. Post this list during the lesson. As observations are made, facts may change or be added to the web.

Give each student a sandwich bag and ask them to fill it with air and seal the top. Some might blow in it, others might swish it through the air to fill it. Have students list words in their science journal that describe the air in their bag.

Have one student in each group sit on his/her bag. What happens? Replace the broken bags. Challenge each group of four to use their bags to hold one member of the group up. (Hint: A thin book between the child and the bags will make this work better!) Students should describe what works in their science journal.

One of the properties of matter is that it takes up space (has volume). Ask the students how they know that air takes up space. They have just seen this by filling the bag with air. They can feel that there is something in the bag, even though they cannot see it. To further demonstrate this, have one child place a container filled to the top with water on a tray. Have another child put an empty bag in the water and describe what happens. Then have a third child push his/her bag of air under water. What happens? Why is their a difference in the water spilled with each of the two bags. Responses to these questions should be recorded in each child s science journal.

Another property of matter is that it has mass. Ask students how they might prove air has mass. Try some of their suggestions. One technique is to have students in each group of four blow up two balloons and close each with a paper clip. Place one balloon and its clip in each pan of the balance and move the rider until they balance. Deflate one of the balloons. (If balances are not available, students can hang a meter stick from a table on a string that is tied to the center of the stick. An inflated balloon can be taped to each end of the meter stick. Extra tape can be added where needed to get the system into balance. Deflate one of the balloons.) Students should observe what happens and record the information in their science journals. Why does the balance tilt? What does this show you about air?

To demonstrate that air can move things, students can blow up their teacher (or the principal). Each student should tape a straw into the open mouth of a balloon. Have them stand around the table and place their balloons on the table with the straws pointing away from the table. Place a piece of lightweight plywood or heavy cardboard on top of the balloons. The plywood/cardboard should be large enough to support the teacher, when lying down. Lie down on this surface. On the count of three, all of the children should blow up their balloons using the straws. They should be able to blow up their teacher. Students should observe what happens and record the information in their science journals. Why does the teacher rise?

To demonstrate that warm air rises, have each group make a spiral of paper (see below). Tie a string to the center of the spiral and hang it over a heat source, such as a radiator, candle (with caution), or a hot plate. Students should observe what happens and record the information in their science journals. What causes the paper to spin?
Explain that the class will be viewing a video on air that will review some of the things they have already learned about air and teach them some new things about how air is used. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to look for evidence of air as they watch the first part of the video.

Turn off the sound and START the video after the opening credits, at the beginning of the tumbleweed scene. STOP the video as the hang glider starts to go down and REWIND it to the beginning of the tumbleweed scene. Turn the volume back on.

Have students describe the evidence of air that they have seen in the video.

Explain to the students that they will be watching the same piece of the video again. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to look for additional evidence of air as they watch the video again.

RESUME the video at the tumbleweed scene. PAUSE video as the hang glider starts to go down and the narrator says even travel on it.

Have students describe any new evidence they have that air is present.

Ask students to recall how they demonstrated that air takes up space. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to find out how the boy in the video demonstrates that air takes up space.

RESUME the video after the hang glider scene. PAUSE video after the Instant Replay, when the narrator finishes saying A trick you say? No, science.

Have students describe how the boy demonstrated that air takes us space. His demonstration can be repeated in the classroom, using the aquarium full of water, a clear plastic cup, and two tissues.

Ask students to recall how they demonstrated that air has mass. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to find out how Kenneth demonstrates that air has mass.

RESUME the video. PAUSE video after Kenneth says I still hear lingering doubts and holds his hand to his ear.

Have students describe how Kenneth demonstrated that air has mass. Discuss how his demonstration is different from the classroom activity.

Ask students how they think a sail is like a roof and how they might both relate to our study of air. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to find the answer to this riddle.

RESUME the video. PAUSE video after the roof is fully inflated, when the music stops.

Have students discuss how a sail and this roof are similar and how they are both affected by air. Ask if any of them have seen a roof like the one in the video. Discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages of a roof like this.

Ask students to predict how air might be used to make potatoes fly. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to find out how the boy in the video makes this happen.

RESUME the video and PAUSE video after the Instant Replay and the pop.

Have students describe how air was used to make a potato fly. Ask them if they have seen anything else that works in the same way. Make a list of similar objects.

Ask students to predict how air might be used to crush a can. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to find out how the boy in the video makes this happen.

RESUME the video. PAUSE video after the boy says, air pressure crushed the can....air in action.

Ask students to describe how the can was crushed. What have they observed that makes them believe that air went out of the can when it was heated?

Ask students what reason there might be for parachutes being of different sizes. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to find out the answer to this question and to find out why parachutes fall so slowly.

RESUME the video. STOP video after Robin says, I loved it...I was just floating.

Discuss with students why a parachute comes down so slowly and what the relationship is between parachute size and weight held.
Go back to the original web and make sure all of the information covered in the lesson has been updated. Look to see if there are other facts that need to be explored and verified using research or experimentation.
Find out if there is a fabric roof in your area and, if there is, visit it.

Go to an Air Show or other event and observe parachutists.

Interview a skydiver.

Visit a lake or the coast and watch sailboats or wind surfers. Compare the different shapes of sails. Find out how sailboats move against the wind.

Talk to a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency about air pollution concerns in your area.

Talk to a doctor to find out how asthma and emphysema affect a person s ability to breathe.
Science: Design a wind-powered car. Experiment to find out what size and shape of sail seems most effective.

Design a parachute to support a toy. Experiment to find out what size the canopy needs to be to bring your toy gently back to the ground. Experiment to see if putting a small hole in the top of the parachute makes it work better.

Do the activities from the 3-2-1 Classroom Contact Teacher s Guide.

Make an anemometer to measure wind speed.

Find out about the Beaufort Wind Scale and use it to describe the wind for several days.

Find other experiments about air and try them. Keep track of your results in your science journal.

Find out how hot air balloons work. Design and build a hot air balloon.

Master Teacher: Linda Harris





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