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Physical Science: Does Air Take Up Space?






Air is all around us. You cannot see it but you can see what air can do. Have you seen the wind blowing the leaves on a tree? That is air moving. You can feel it on your skin. Have you seen a sailboat moving across the water? The air is pushing it.

We also put air inside our lungs when we breathe in. We push air out when we breathe out. But if air is invisible does it take up space? Is it really made of anything?

Do these experiments to see if air takes up space:

Big Balloons

You will need:

  • Two balloons
  • water


    Look at your balloon. It is flat. There is nothing in it. Now hold your balloon under the faucet and put some water in it. What happens? Does the balloon start to get bigger? It should because the water is taking up space inside the balloon. We can see the water filling up the balloon. Now let the water out. What happens? The balloon goes flat again because it is empty.

    Now let’s try this with something invisible – air. Look at your flat balloon. It has nothing in it. Can air fill it? Blow into the balloon. Is the balloon getting bigger? The more air you put in the balloon the bigger it will get. Air is filling up the balloon. Now let all of the air out of your balloon. What happens? Does it go flat again?


    You will need:

  • Paper napkin or paper towel square.
  • String
  • Small plastic person or animal


    Cut four pieces of string the same size – about 10 inches long. Tape a piece of string to each corner of the napkin (parachute). Tie or tape the ends of the string to the toy man. Stand on a chair and hold the parachuter up high. Drop him and watch the parachute slowly bring him down safely. The parachute fills up with air and keeps the toy from falling fast.

    What we learned:

    Air takes up space even though we cannot see it. It is made of tiny things called molecules. There are oxygen molecules in the air that we need to live.


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