The Magic of Air: Upside Down Water

Contributor: Kaitlyn Aston. Lesson ID: 12809

If someone dared you to fill a glass with water and turn it upside down, would you do it? Probably not unless you were outside and had a raincoat on! However, you CAN do it! Learn how to do it safely!


Physical Science

learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • Have you ever seen someone hold a glass of water upside down WITHOUT the water spilling out?

Well, with the amazing properties of air, it is possible!

  • Did you know that the air around you is pushing against you?

That's right!

Air doesn't just float around objects, but it pushes and shoves against everything that it comes in contact with! The only reason you can't feel it is because it exerts the same amount of force on you from all directions.

This is quite puzzling!

  • Can air be used to make water hang upside-down?

It may sound like magic, but it can happen with the power of air — or air pressure! Air pressure, which is caused by air molecules moving around, can change all the time!

Check in with Flo to see what she can add to the subject of air!

As you saw in the video, air can do some AMAZING things! The water did not fall out of the cup. The real question is,

  • "Was any magic involved, or did air do all the work?"

Air pressure began to build up around the piece of cardboard to hold it in place. At the same time, there were not a lot of air molecules pushing down on the water inside the cup.

Since there were more air molecules pushing up on the cardboard than there were pushing down on the water, the card stayed in place!

If you didn't do the experiment with Flo, go ahead and do it now, and see if it works! All you need is a glass filled with water and a piece of cardboard.

  • Did it work?

The Got It? section will help you make more connections about air pressure, and give you more experiments to try!

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