Barometers work on the principle that the air pressure can change. High air pressure tends to indicate fair weather, and low air pressure can indicate poor or rainy weather. A barometer shows the relative difference in air pressure outside the barometer compared to inside. In this activity, the barometer is a sealed jar with a balloon lid, and the changes in air pressure can be seen by changes in the shape of the balloon.
If the pressure of the air outside the jar is higher than inside (high pressure), it will push down on the balloon and the balloon lid will sink and the straw will point up. If the air pressure outside the jar is lower than inside (low pressure), the balloon will swell outwards and the straw will point down.
In this activity, students will construct a simple barometer. This activity supports the development of the science capabilities, especially ‘Gather and interpret data’, ‘Use evidence’ and ‘Critique evidence’.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- build a simple barometer
- collect data using their barometer
- interpret and make meaning of their data
- discuss the reliability of their data.
Download the Word file (see link below) for:
- background information for teachers
- equipment list
- student instructions
- extension ideas/prompting questions for teachers.
Activities are designed to be adaptable to meet students’ requirements, age level and ability.
Nature of science
In this activity, students will build on their understandings about how scientists use tools to measure and collect data about the environment.
This activity is part of a set of five activities designed to support students collecting data about the weather. The other activities are:
Explore the science concepts that underpin the nature and properties of air with The air around us interactive.