Learning Lesson: Crunch Time

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Early stage tornado in Oklahoma

ERN Item Type: 

  • Classroom Activities


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service (NWS)


Pressure is not only a matter of altitude but also dependent upon the temperature. As the temperature increases so does the pressure. The molecules and atoms that comprise the air we breathe gain energy as they absorb heat. That increase in energy results in faster moving atoms which we observe as an increase in energy. The opposite occurs when the temperature decreases. As the molecules lose energy, their motion is decreased and we observe a decrease in pressure. The students will see a plastic 2-liter bottle crushed by the normal atmospheric pressure in the room by this decrease in pressure.

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