Thursday, March 4, 2010

Air Pressure & Flying Machines

One cool thing about homeschool is that if we get interested in something that is just talked about a little bit in one of our books, we can take the time to stop and study that area more. That is what we did in science class. 

You see, we have been studying birds, in our Zoology book, and there was a little part about how air pressure helps them to fly. So we decided to experiment and find out how that works. My mom always has lots of extra science experiments on hand, that she got from Super Charged Science, so we are always ready to really see how things work! (That's my favorite, because then sometimes we can skip more boring stuff for a couple days!)

What do you think will happen when Bird blows in between these two cans? We thought they would blow apart...and maybe fall off the counter! 
But actually, the cans pushed together! How did that happen? Because when air moves, it makes the air pressure go low. So when Bird blows in the middle, the air pressure in the middle goes lower, so the air pressure around the outside of the cans stays higher, and pushes the cans together. Higher pressure always pushes! 

Here is another example: We poked holes in the bottom of a water bottle, then we filled it with water. The water came out of the holes fast! 
But when we put the top on, the water did not come out the holes!! What in the world??? Why doesn't the water keep coming out fast??? Well, when we put the top on the bottle, no more air can get in that way, and that makes the air pressure in there a little bit lower. So then the air pressure outside the bottle is higher, and it pushes the water to hold it up in the bottle. That's the same thing that happens when you get a soda at McDonalds and put your thumb on top of the straw and take the straw out and the soda stays in the straw. Very cool!

We wanted to learn more about air pressure and flying, so we decided to go visit the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. 

This is me and my dad. We were looking at rockets. And I was nervous - when I looked down, I was scared, because we were up so high and we were beside just a glass wall! 

At the museum we went to the discovery area to do more experiments and learn more about air pressure. At this part we had to try and see if we were stronger than air pressure. You pushed a button to let out the air inside, and that made all the air pressure on the outside go a lot higher. Then you had to pull the knob and see if you could open the door. 
Bo pulled and pulled, but he was not strong enough. People think that a vacuum is when the lower air pressure inside is sucking the door down, but really, it's the higher pressure outside the door that's pushing the door down - Higher pressure pushes! 

In this experiment it uses water instead of air - so we can see it better - and it shows how air moves around a wing. The way you move the wing changes the air pressure and can make the plane or bird go up or down or crash! If the air moves around the wing the right way, it will make the air pressure under the wing higher, and since higher pressure pushes, the plane or bird will be pushed up, up, UP...that's called "lift," by the way. In this picture I had the wing turned around the wrong way, so they were going to crash!

We did lots of other experiments while we were there. 

We also got to meet the Wright Brothers there! Well, not really, it was just a big picture of them. I'm wearing my Stonewall Jackson shirt in this picture. I love Stonewall Jackson because he's my favorite general. But he was for the Confederates, and I like the Union. But he was still a good man. I like Abraham Lincoln, too. Anyway, the Wright brothers invented the first airplane. They were from the United States of America - our country is awesome! There have been some great inventors from Europe, but the USA has had some great inventors, too. 

This is a model of the Wright Brother's airplane. It's pretty different from the airplanes we have now. But they all have to follow the rules of air pressure, or they will crash. Anything that's going to fly needs higher air pressure to push them up! Now I guess we can get back into the regular science book...until we decide to experiment more with something else! 

**Just a note from Mamma - we got a little mixed up with logins when this was posted, so it was posted from Mamma's login, and you can see below it says that it was posted by Mamma Bear. However, it was actually posted by Rooster Boy, we just put it in the wrong place. Wanted to be sure credit was given where credit was due!**


  1. Great post Zachary. I really had a good time with you on our trip to the Air and Space Museum. Let me know went you and your brothers find something else you want to experiment with. Maybe we can take another trip somewhere.
    Love, Dad

  2. Thank you for your comment. Maybe you and me can go on a trip to Washington D.C. just you and me like last year. But it's going to be different. I want to do it in the summer. And during the week when it's not so crowded. I want to see the American History museum! And I want to go to the Air and Space Museum again! I love you, Dad.

  3. Well Rooster I just decided to tell you that... your blog is amazing! Now it is time to do MY blog someday soon and it'll be a cooking one. And I just like how you and Bo and me were in that picture with the Wright Brothers. So I just wanted to say - give me a big hug tonight! Hahaha!

  4. Rooster we will if the Lord be willing and the creeks don't raise take a trip this summer to D.C.. You're right the weekend crowds are not too fun.

    Caleb you're a nut!!! HAHAHAHA

  5. Wow, what a great post, Zachary! I've got a pretty lousy memory, but I think all the different experiments you did and your excellent explanations will help even me remember that HIGHER PRESSURE PUSHES! Thank you for talking all about these experiments and the fun you've had. You did a wonderful job! --Mrs Postupak

  6. Dad - if you keep working in the summer, maybe we won't have enough time to go to D.C. If we do have enough time I will be glad. Love you!

    Mrs Postupak - I'm glad you know high pressure pushes. I try to say it so that everyone can understand. And I try my best.