Air Pressure

A boy and girl operating a button and watching a clear dome with weights attached. In the background is a blue and white information panel.
A boy and girl operating a button and watching a clear dome with weights attached. In the background is a blue and white information panel.

Air pressure changes as you travel higher into Earth's atmosphere.

How it works

Use the button and hand pump to remove air from the glass dome and watch how the rubber sheet responds.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • As you travel higher into the sky, what happens to the air pressure?
  • Do you experience much air pressure standing here on the Earth's surface?

Background

As you remove air from the dome, the rubber sheet rises because it is not being pressed down upon by air. The rubber sheet represents how the air pressure drops as you go higher up into the atmosphere.

Finding the science in your world

As you travel higher in altitude (in a plane, or driving up a mountain), air pressure drops. You may feel this change in pressure when your ears 'pop'. Eustachian tubes inside your ear experience unequal pressure when the surrounding air pressure lowers and generates less force on your body and ears compared to air pressure at ground level.