Atmospheric Pressure
Properties of Matter

Dry Times

At home for 5-11 11-14


What you need

  • Newspaper
  • Water
  • Bucket or deep bowl
  • Plastic or glass container

Instructions

  1. Fill the large bowl about two-thirds full with water. Scrunch up the newspaper and stuff it firmly into the container
  2. Plunge the container straight down into the water, wait about 20 seconds, then lift it straight out again without tilting or turning it

Results and Explanation

When you take the newspaper out, it is completely dry!
Water cannot fill the container because of the air trapped inside it. The air gets squashed a little, but the air pressure is enough to push against the water so it doesn’t get into the container or touch the paper.

These experiments have not been specifically safety tested for home use but we believe them to be safe if the instructions are followed. Adult supervision or direction is recommended as appropriate. All experiments are carried out at your own risk.

Atmospheric Pressure
is a special case of Pressure
2021 IOP Awards

Teachers of Physics Award

Recognising and celebrating outstanding contributions to the field of physics education.

Learn more