Learning about air is like magic to kids! We can’t see air, but we know it exists, right?  This air science experiment will help kids learn just that!

Adults accept and understand that air exists, sure, but children are different. Young children need to see and to feel the concrete. Explaining that air exists is an abstract idea since we can’t actually see it. We know that it exists and takes up space. So how do we show that to young kids?

There are many kid-friendly science experiments that show air does exist even though we can’t see it but this hands-on demonstration is sure to be a hit.  Check out our 30 Science Experiments for kids that’s sure to be a hit!


Getting Ready

Learning about Air Materials


First, I collected our supplies:

  1. Paper towel
  2. Glass
  3. Water
  4. Bowl
  5. Food coloring or liquid water color (optional)

Learning About Air

To start, we filled a bowl 3/4 with water. (You can use a small pitcher to get your child involved in the pouring.) Then, I had my child crumple the paper towel and place it into the bottom of the glass so that it wouldn’t fall out when we tipped it upside down.

We placed a few drops of food coloring into the bowl so that when air escaped the cup later and water took its place, we’d be able to easily see it as the food coloring soaked the paper towel.

It was time to learn about air!  I asked my son what he thought would happen when we pushed the glass into the water.  Then, we turned the glass upside down and pushed it into the water.

Learning about Air Science Experiment

As we pulled the cup from the water and the paper towel from the glass, I asked, “What do you notice about the paper towel?”

“It’s dry,” he replied.

I followed up, “How did the paper towel remain dry?”

“The air takes up space,” he replied proudly.  He was learning about air!

We ended by tipping the glass a bit and watching as the water entered the glass and the air bubbled to the top. The colored water quickly absorbed into the paper towel.

Teaching Kids about Air

Further Learning

  • Talk about how air is made of a mixture of gases. This mixture blankets the Earth 400 miles high making our “atmosphere.” Air actually protects Earth by absorbing radiation and reducing heat differences between night and day.
  • Introduce the topic of “air pollution” to children.
  • Explain that all living things need air. Animals take in air, use the oxygen and then release another gas called carbon dioxide.
  • Feel the wind and observe trees moving as examples of being able to feel air while not seeing it.
  • Blow bubbles and balloons as examples of air taking up space.

More Fun

Can’t get enough of kids’ science?! Check out our 30 Science Experiments that kids will beg to repeat!

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