Boyle's Law
Properties of Matter

Larger kinetic model to illustrate Boyle's law

Practical Activity for 14-16 PRACTICAL PHYISCS


This experiment is quite elaborate, but it yields quantitative results. A beam balance weighs the pressure.

Apparatus and Materials

  • Vibration generator
  • Signal generator
  • Thread
  • Aluminium sheet
  • Beam balance
  • Rubber sheet
  • Cylinder, wide, 10 cm diameter
  • Plastic balls, large

Health & Safety and Technical Notes

Read our standard health & safety guidance

Hang a light piston of aluminium sheet by a thread from one side of a beam balance. The thread needs to run through a hole in the floor of the balance.

The piston should fit loosely in a wide vertical cylinder, about 10 cm in diameter.

Fix a rubber sheet over the base of the cylinder and place some large plastic balls, such as those used for electrostatic experiments, into the cylinder.

Adjust the height of vibrator so that its vibrating rod is just a millimeter or two below the rubber sheet.


  1. Balance the beam with the vibrator turned off.
  2. Turn on the vibrator - try 50 hertz - and add weights to the balance to measure the force exerted by the bombardment.

Teaching Notes

  • If the vibrator and cylinder are raised, halving the volume, you should find that the pressure is doubled.
  • If, instead, the number of balls is increased, you should find that the pressure increases proportionately.

This experiment was safety-tested in March 2005

Boyle's Law
is expressed by the relation (p_1)(V_1)=(p_2)(V_2)
can be used to derive Ideal Gas Law
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