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Physics and Astronomy Demonstrations

Fluid Mechanics

Surface Tension

Submerged Float

PIRA: 2A10.15

Description: A ring with a large cork stopper attached is weighted so it will just float with the the ring above the surface. When the ring is forced below the surface it cannot rise above the surface due to surface tension.

Needle Float

PIRA: 2A10.20

Description: The surface tension of water is sufficient to float a sewing needle if it is greasy, skin oil will work.

Floating Strawberry Basket

PIRA: 2A10.22

Description: Even though strawberry baskets are more dense than water they will float because of surface tension. They will sink if they are wet and will not float again until they are completely dry.

Plate Measure of Surface Tension

PIRA: 2A10.33

Description: A round plate is lifted by a rubber band. The rubber band stretches to a certain length.Then the round plate is placed on the surface of water and lifted again. This time the rubber band stretches more.

Bubble Makers

PIRA: 2A10.52

Description: A set of bubble makers to demonstrate surface tension, and discuss why bubbles are always round.

Double Bubble Paradox (Subtitle)

PIRA: 2A10.53

Description: Two bubbles are blown , one larger than the other. When the two are connected together, the larger bubble gets larger still. This is due to surface tension.

Capillary Tubes (Subtitle)

PIRA: 2A20.10

Description: Show the rise of water in a small diameter tube due to surface tension.

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Statics of Fluids

Pressure Independent of Direction

PIRA: 2B20.10

Description: Thistle tubes connected to a U-tube manometer are used to determine the pressure at depth in a fluid. The thistle tube point both downward and sideways.

Pascal’s Vessels

PIRA: 2B20.40

Description: These variously shaped tubes are used to show that water seeks it own level. The height of the fluid in the column depends only on the pressure to which it is exposed and not on the diameter of the column.

Hydraulic Press

PIRA: 2B20.60

Description: The hydraulic jack can be used to break scrap pieces of wood, showing that the force on the small cylinder is multiplied to achieve the larger force on the large cylinder.

Bed of Nails
  • Bed of Nails
  • PIRA: 2B20.63

    Nail in Bottle of Water

    PIRA: 2B20.72

    1 atm Bar

    PIRA: 2B30.06

    Crush the Can {steam}

    PIRA: 2B30.10

    Crush the Can {vacuum}

    PIRA: 2B30.25

    Description: A can is connected to a vacuum pump, and the air is taken out of the can. The atmosphere then collapses the can.

    Lift a Stool

    PIRA: 2B30.50

    Description: Place a square foot of 1/16" rubber sheet on a chair and lift the chair by pulling up on a handle attached to the rubber seat.


    PIRA: 2B35.11

    Description: The barometric pressure can be measured by weighting a can with all the air out.

    Weigh a Submerged Block

    PIRA: 2B40.10

    Description: The objective of this demonstration is to show that the weight of displaced water added to the weight of the mass in the water is equal to the weight of the mass out of the water.

    Weigh a mass on a scale. While still connected to the scale, place that mass in a bucket of water. Allow the displaced water to run over into a large beaker. Weigh the mass in the water. Now, weight the displaced water. Make sure that the beaker has been weighed in advance so as to be able to know the weight of the water.

    Show that the weight of the displaced water + the weight of the mass in the water = the weight of the mass outside of the water.

    Finger in Beaker on Scale

    PIRA: 2B40.15

    Archimedes’s Principle with Kitchen Scale

    PIRA: 2B40.22

    Archimedes’ Principle

    PIRA: 2B40.23

    Description: Suspend a pail and a mass from a force sensor, lower the mass into the water, collect the overflow, pour into the pail.

    Cartesian Diver

    PIRA: 2B40.30

    Description: A plastic pipette is filled with water and air to the point of being nearly zero buoyant. The pipette is in a 2 L. plastic pop bottle filled with water. When the bottle is squeezed the air in the pipette is compressed and the diver sinks. Changes in the atmospheric pressure can make the diver rise or fall. { make sure that it works before it is tried in front of the class.

    Water / Alcohol Tubes

    PIRA: 2B40.53

    Description: A water barometer and an alcohol barometer are connected together across their tops. If air is drawn OUT of the system through the hose, the columns is the barometers rise. The dependence of the height of the column on the density of the fluid can be shown.

    4 – Fluid Density Jar

    PIRA: 2B40.54

    Description: A graduated cylinder is filled with four fluids of different densities; paraffin, water, CCl4, Hg. One ball can be floated on each of the fluids. The balls are made of cork, soft pine wood, teak, steel respectively. Each ball is attached to a string to make removal easy. (not recommended due to the large quantity of mercury)

    Water level Displacement

    PIRA: 2B40.55

    Buoyant Force Rotator

    PIRA: 2B40.57

    Description: Two large Erlenmeyer flasks on the ends of a rotating platform. In each is a float, and on one is tied a float on the outside. When it is rotated, the ball on the outside goes out from the flask and the floats on the inside go toward the center.

    Density Ball

    PIRA: 2B40.59

    Description: A ball when placed in cold water will float, but when placed in 40 degrees C the ball sinks.

    Hero’s Fountain

    PIRA: 2B60.10

    Description: A fountain that appears to defy the law that water can only rise to its highest level. The fountain appears because of the air space in the lower bulb.

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    Dynamics of Fluids

    Leaking Can

    PIRA: 2C10.27

    Venturi Tube

    PIRA: 2C20.11

    Description: A tube with a constricted midsection. A narrow tube is connected in the midsection and larger tubes near each end. These three tubes are connected to each other on the bottom too, so the level of fluid is the same in each. When air is blown through the tube the levels of the fluid in the tubes change to show the pressure difference.


    Floating Ball or Light Bulb

    PIRA: 2C20.30

    Description: A ball can be suspended in air with a stream of air. Other objects can be floated too, light bulbs, etc.

    Funnel and Ball

    PIRA: 2C20.35

    Rising Tube

    PIRA: 2C20.37

    Description: A tube is wrapped with a cloth which is attached to a rubber band . When the rubber band is stretched and the tube released it will either rise or fall depending on which way the cloth is wrapped around the tube.

    Bernoulli Plate

    PIRA: 2C20.41

    Description: A circular disk with an air inlet and a large thin sheet of metal. When air is blown through the air inlet the thin sheet of metal is picked up and weights can be hung on it.


    PIRA: 2C20.42

    Description: Demonstrate Bernoulli effect.


    PIRA: 2C20.43

    Description: An airfoil, it returns to the sender when it is thrown properly.

    Hanging Billiard Balls

    PIRA: 2C20.46

    Description: The object is to get someone to blow the balls apart by blowing between them. The harder the person blows, the closer the balls get.

    Demonstration Airfoil

    PIRA: 2C20.51

    Description: An airfoil , show the class why airplanes fly.

    Pitot Tubes

    PIRA: 2C40.11

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