The Magic School Bus Goes on Air

Field Trip Notes
We got assigned air, and it’s not fair! The only contribution the kids in Ms. Frizzle’s class have to give the Walkerville Space Capsule is an empty jar. "It’s not empty," argues Keesha. "It’s filled with...air!" "But air doesn’t do anything!" wails Ralphie. They discover the "air-ror" of their ways when they shrink and get stuck inside the jar - and all they find inside the "How-to-Get-Out-of-a-Pickle-Jar-When-You’re-the-Size-of-a-Snail Escape Kit" is...air!
Pushy Air

Going Hands-On

Time: 30 minutes
Group Size: 2-4

Ms. Frizzle’s kids trap air in containers and discover that air is pushy stuff. Your kids explore how air pressure can hold up heavy objects.

What You Need
  • Straw for each child
  • Gallon zipper bag for each group
  • Heavy books or other objects
  • Copies of PUSHY AIR page


Talk About It

Ask: Is air real stuff? How do you know that air is real? (One way: Feel wind, breath.) What can air do?

What To Do
  1. Pass out straws, zipper bags, and activity sheets.
  2. Have kids trap air in their bags.
  3. Ask: Is anything in your bag? Let kids describe what happens when they press on the bag.
  4. Use the activity to challenge kids to discover if the air bags can support heavy objects.
  5. Then let kids deflate the bags for the Air Lift challenge. Ask volunteers to pick up three heavy books. Ask: Are they hard to lift? Can you lift them with your breath alone?

Next Stop
Have kids ride bikes first with underinflated tires, then fully inflated. Ask: Which required more effort to ride? Why? (Fully inflated tires have more air squeezed inside the tires. The pressure makes them stiff. Soft tires flex and bend - using up energy.)
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