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Atmospheric Pressure-The Upward Falling Test Tube (Enrique Hueyopa)


Enrique Hueyopa

Principles Illustrated

Air pressure.  Atmospheric pressure.


Investigation and Experimentation
    9. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful
    investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content
    in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform
    investigations. Students will:
        a. Plan and conduct a scientific investigation to test a hypothesis.
        b. Evaluate the accuracy and reproducibility of data.
        c. Distinguish between variable and controlled parameters in a test.
        d. Recognize the slope of the linear graph as the constant in the relationship y =kx
        and apply this principle in interpreting graphs constructed from data.
        e. Construct appropriate graphs from data and develop quantitative statements
        about the relationships between variables.
        f. Apply simple mathematic relationships to determine a missing quantity in a
        mathematic expression, given the two remaining terms (including speed = distance/
        time, density = mass/volume, force = pressure × area, volume = area ×

Questioning Script

Prior knowledge & experience:

What will occur when an object is inverted and there is no apparent force keeping the object up?

Root question:

What natural phenomenon is responsible for the result? 

What happened to the volume of the water after inverting?

What made the smaller test tube move upwards?

What would be the total force pushing the test tube upwards?

Would this phenomenon also succeed with a much smaller test tube floating on the water of a much larger test tube and then inverting it?  Why?  Why not?

Target response:

Air pressure pushes the inside beaker up?

Common Misconceptions:

Students will predict that the inside beaker will fall as soon as both beakers are inverted?

Photographs and Movies


             Liem, L., Tik. (1987). Invitations to Science Inquiry. Chino Hills, CA: Science Inquiry