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Science Fun: Equalizing Air Pressure

Wind can do some very interesting things. You can “see” wind, but you can feel it and you can see what wind can help make happen. Wind also has a lot to do with weather patterns.

Here’s a way to see the power of air and the pressure air can exert. And, its almost like a magic trick, so share the idea with a friend.

What You Need for Your Experiment:

a ruler
4 sheets of newspaper


1. Lay the sheets of newspaper on a flat table top, with the long edge of the newspaper against the edge of the paper. Slide the ruler under the sheets so that it is a little over half under the papers and a little less than half over the edge of the table.

2. Try and lift the paper by smacking quickly down on the ruler with your open hand. Slap the ruler quickly but not too hard because the ruler might snap in half. The paper won’t lift.

3. Now you move your hand slowly down and pretend to slap but just slowly and gently put pressure on the ruler. Now the paper should lift.

Here’s what happens. To life the paper you need to move a lot of air out of the way. Doing that quickly takes a lot of force. When you do it slowly, you can do it with one finger.

When you press down slowly on the ruler the air has time to move in under the newspaper and equalize the air pressure under the papers with the air pressure above the papers.


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