Weather Workshop: Air Pressure Explained

Updated: Jun. 18, 2020 at 10:24 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Meteorologists Andrew Dockery and Jessica Dobson are back for another Weather Workshop and this week, they are talking about air pressure!

Weather patterns are impacted by both high and low pressure and each one brings different types of weather.

High pressure is attributed to sinking air. When high pressure is around, our weather pattern is calm, clear and quiet. High pressure doesn't necessarily mean cooler weather but it does mean calmer weather.

Low pressure is attributed to rising air. When the weather is interesting, it's because of low pressure. Showers, storms, heavy rain, tornadoes and hurricanes are all associated with low pressure systems. When the weather is impactful, low pressure is around.

In this week's experiment, we're going to create a small pressure difference in a mason jar.

Parents and teachers, just a fair warning, adult supervision will be needed for this week's experiment.

Items You Will Need…

  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Plate
  • Candle
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Jar or vase
  • Plenty of paper towel
  • Adult supervision

The first step you will want to take when conducting this experiment is to pour a few drops of food coloring into your cup of water.

Next you will pour just enough water to cover most of the plate, leaving an inch or two dry around the rim of the plate.

The next step is where you will want to make sure you have adult supervision. Place the candle in the center of your plate (in the water) and light the candle.

Carefully place your jar or vase over the lit candle. This is when you will see the results of the experiment!

How does this work?

The water won’t begin to rise until the flame from the candle goes out. As the candle is burning, it’s heating up the air and it’s increasing the pressure. As the candle burns out, it is no longer heating that air. That air contracts and the pressure goes down in the jar, pulling the water in and upward.

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