Have you ever tried turning a glass of water upside down without spilling it? It seems impossible! Both kids and adults will be amazed by this experiment that appears to defy gravity.
With just a few simple household items, you can try this simple and fun science experiment where kids can get see the effects of air pressure in action. Printable instructions, a demonstration video, and an easy to understand explanation of how it works are included below.
Helpful Tip: Be sure to try this experiment over a sink or large container lest you accidentally make a BIG wet mess!
- Drinking Glass
- Thick Sheet of Paper that is long and wide enough to cover the entire mouth of the glass. (We used a piece of poster board)
- Large Container or Sink
Step 1 – Begin by filling the empty glass with water. Ensure that the water is completely to the top of the glass. If there is any space between the water and the paper, the experiment won’t work.
Step 2 – Gently place the paper on the top of the glass.
Step 3 – Move the glass over the container or sink.
Step 4 – Gently place your hand on the paper, then flip the glass over. What do you think will happen if you remove your hand? Write down your hypothesis (prediction) and then follow the steps below.
Step 5 – Remove your hand from the bottom and watch in amazement as the paper stays covering the glass and the water doesn’t spill out. Do you know why this happens? Find out the answer in the how does this experiment work section below.
Upside Down Water Glass Video
How Does the Experiment Work?
The reason this experiment works is because of air pressure! Air pressure is the weight of a column of air pushing down on an area. While we cannot feel it, the air is heavy! The weight of the air pushing down on all objects on Earth is the same as the combined weight of three cars! The reason we don’t feel this extreme weight is that the molecules in air push evenly in all directions – up, down, sideways, diagonally. In this experiment, the air pushing up from underneath the paper is strong enough to overcome the weight of the water pushing down on the paper. Because of the air pressure pushing up on the card, the card will stay on the glass and the water will not spill out.
Do note that while the paper will stay for a while, the paper will become saturated and it will fall eventually.
More Science Fun
If you enjoyed this experiment, then you’ll definitely enough these other cool science experiments that also highlight the power of air.
- Balloon Rocket – Make a balloon that flies across the room like a rocket
- Keep Towel Dry Under Water – Use simple science to keep the paper towel dry after submerging it in water
- Put a Straw through a Raw Potato – Yes, you can easily stick a drinking straw through a hard raw potato
I hope you enjoyed the experiment. Here are some printable instructions: