Lesson Plan #:AELP-PHY0006
Bubble-ology and Bernoulli
An AskERIC Lesson Plan
AUTHOR: MaryAnne Nelson, Needham Elementary, Durango, CO
GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: Appropriate for grades 4-9
Bubbles are not only captivating, colorful, and fun to make, they
are also excellent demonstrations of scientific phenomena. Bubble- ology
is a motivating and powerful introduction to the process and substance
The purpose of this activity is to introduce aerodynamics to the
students by challenging them to devise the best ways to keep a bubble aloft.
In this fun context, you'll teach Bernoulli's principle and help explain
how airplanes fly.
OBJECTIVES: As a result of this activity, the students will:
Devise ways to keep a bubble from hitting the ground, without touching
it with their hands or with any other object.
Students will make 2 lists: methods that worked, and those that didn't
As a group, students will use their demonstrations to decide whether increasing
the pressure under the bubble or decreasing the pressure over it keeps
an object aloft.
1 gallon container, 8 oz. dishwashing liquid, 1 measuring cup,
1 eyedropper, glycerin (optional), pint-sized containers, straws or other
hollow tubes, index cards
Bubble-ology, Teacher's Guide, LHS-GEMS: Great Explorations in
Math and Science, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at
ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER AND GOING FURTHER:
Prepare bubble solution: 1 cup dishwashing liquid, 50-60 drops glycerin
(optional), 1 gallon water. Have small containers of the solution, and
straws or other hollow tubes to blow the bubble with, put in various locations
around the room.
Read: In the 18th century, a scientist named Daniel Bernoulli discovered
a scientific principle that now carries his name. It became the basis for
airplane flight many years after its discovery. The Bernoulli principle
states that the faster air flows, the less pressure it exerts.
Draw a diagram of an airplane and an airplane wing on the chalkboard. Point
out that as air hits the wings of a plane, some of it has to go over them
and some of it has to go underneath. Scientists have discovered that regardless
of whether the air goes over or under, it arrives at the other side of
the wing at the same instant. What does the Bernoulli principle say about
faster moving air?
Explain that the force pushing upward is called dynamic lift. Summarize
by stating that there are two approaches to keeping an object aloft: increasing
the pressure under it, or decreasing the pressure over it.
Divide your class into small groups. Ask the groups to experiment to devise
methods to keep their bubbles from hitting the ground and list methods
that work by increasing the pressure under the bubble, or by decreasing
the pressure over it. You may distribute index cards and invite them to
wave the cards over and under the bubbles to further demonstrate Bernoulli's
Students write a group report and share results of this activity, explaining
which method worked and why.
Make or obtain posters of airplanes and airplane wings and post them around
the classroom. Ask students to explain how the Bernoulli principle is incorporated
into the design of each plane.
Set up a series of short bubble obstacle courses, including challenging
features as steps, curves, corners, and a hoop.
Challenge students to use bubbles to detect air flow patterns in a room
These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have
attended the Columbia Education Center's Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium
of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of
education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality
of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of
their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers
to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at
This activity has been copied, with permission, from the
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) server to ours, to
allow faster access from our website. We encourage you to explore the
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