In this activity, students indirectly measure atmospheric pressure using a plastic drink bottle and a ping pong ball. They will then use this measure to calculate the force acting on the outside of a soft drink can.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • give a simple explanation of how atmospheric pressure comes about
  • determine atmospheric pressure either by direct measurement using a barometer or by use of the internet
  • describe in simple terms how a drink bottle and ping pong ball can be used to indirectly calculate atmospheric pressure
  • use the relationship force = pressure x area to calculate the crushing force acting on the outside of soft drink can
  • relate the size of this force to an everyday experience.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • student handout.
    Published 29 April 2014