Air: The Stuff of Life


Barbara P. Lorde

This lesson was created as a part of the SMART website and is hosted by the Illinois Institute of Technology

Purpose:   The students will be able to state that air occupies space by performing experiments that show this principle.

Level:       First Grade

Focus:       Ask the students to talk about air.  Can the students see air?  How do they know it is there?  (feel it, smell it)

Background:  All things need air to live.  People have survived as long as a month without food and more than a week without  

                       water, but a human being can only live a few minutes without air.  Air is something we can not see, we can not hold  

                       onto, yet it is almost every where.  In fact, since we can not see, smell, taste, or touch air, we really know about

                      air because of the things it does.  You may not be able to see air, but by doing the following activities, you will see    

                      that air does exist.

Giant Floating Bubbles

Bubbles are air or gas trapped inside a liquid ball



  1.   Mix the water, detergent, glycerin, and corn syrup in a large basin or dish pan.

  2.   Bend the wire hanger into a circle, a star, or other interesting closed shape.

  3. Submerge your hanger in the basin, and lift it out gently.  Now hold it carefully and run!

        Watch the bubbles blow behind you.

Air Bags




Can You Answer This  Science Riddle?

You can't see me,

You can't hold me,

You can pass through me;

I take up space, even own.

What am I?



Once each student has completed the experiment, discuss why the giant floating bubbles trapped air.                                                              


Is Air Really There?

The Air Around Us

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