PBS KidsZOOM Home Back to Activity
Science Rocks!

Air Lift


your results

Sent in by:
Ashley of TN

Can you lift a book with just air?

Materials Needed

  • gallon-size, zipper-lock plastic bag
  • heavy book
  • pencil
  • plastic drinking straw
  • tape



  1. Check with a grown-up before you begin.
  2. Place a heavy book on top of the plastic bag. Let about two inches of the bag stick out from under the book.
  3. Poke a hole in the bag with the pencil.
  4. Stick the straw in the hole. Use tape to seal the hole around the straw so no air can escape.

  1. Blow into the straw. Hold your tongue over the straw to keep air from leaking out when you take a breath.
  2. What happens? Can you lift the book off the table?

  1. Here's how it works. When you blow air into the bag, the air is pushed together, or "compressed." The compressed air pushes on the bag. This makes the bag push on the book and lift it up. So the bag filled with compressed air can support the weight of the book. The tires on your bike work in the same way. They are filled with compressed air and can support your weight. When the air leaks out of bike tires, they can no longer support your weight. That is why it's hard to ride your bike when the tires are flat. Can you think of other things that use compressed air?

Now it's time for you to experiment. What happens if you use a balloon or garbage bag instead of a plastic bag? What happens if you use more than one bag? Can you lift a large object, like a table? You might need to ask some friends to help out. And be sure to have an adult help you! Choose one thing to change (that's the variable), and predict what you think will happen. Then test it and send your results to ZOOM.

Some of your Results

Neida, age 10 of Yakima, WA wrote:
It was sooo hard my face turnd red and my brother tryed it he is 17 and he did it.

Angie, age 13 of Lawrence, MA wrote:
Nothing really happened.

Adyant, age 15 of Noida, India wrote:
It was soo cool. I did this as a science project. My books blew upwards.

Harshita, age 10 of Noida wrote:
It was true! I could not believe it!!!

Aryan, age 10 of Delhi, IN wrote:
It was like magic when the book was floating.

Gopal, age 9 of Noida wrote:
When I blew air into the bag, the bag lifted the book. That was awesome.

Vikram, age 10 of New Delhi wrote:
The book lifted off the ziplock bag when air was blown into it with a straw.

Pranjali, age 9 of Noida wrote:
It was amazing! We had to do this for homework and it worked, the book lifted up!!!

Paola, age 12 of Milwaukee, WI wrote:
the book kept on sliding to the side when I blew air into the bag

Lana, age 6 of Northglenn, CO wrote:
Um, I put a really heavy book on the bag, and I lifted it up.

Michael, age 4 of Jamestown, NC wrote:
The book floated.

Waynia, age 7 of Toronto, ON wrote:
When I blew air into the bag, the bag lifted the book. That was awesome.

Rachael, age 10 of Phoenix, AZ wrote:
The bag supported the weight of the book. It was amazing. I did however have one problem, it was that the book wouldn't stay on the bag. But other than that it works well.

Makala, age 9 of Salem wrote:
i got a foam ball and decerated it. then I put a little fan under it. when I turned it on it flouted on air! it was so cool! I used to not like sceince. but now I do!!

Britney, age 11 of Montrose, CO wrote:
it lifted sooo high that my bag almost popped. I used a dictionary about 600 pages and it went sooo high I was sooo... just wow

Booboo, age 8 of Ballwin, MO wrote:
it lifted in the air for 20 seconds.

Makayla, age 9 of MI wrote:
it actully worked!!! I was surprised!!! I used a GIANT dictinary!!! it was awsome

Christian, age 8 of CA wrote:
it went hiy up

Jessica, age 11 of Toronto, ON wrote:
The book whent up and stayed there for like 5 seconds but then it came down

Eliza, age 10 of Ballston Spa, NY wrote:
it worked! I was so suprizedthat is lifted a atlas

Collin, age 9 of Vancouver, WA wrote:
It was awesome! I used a giant dictionary and it still worked.

Emille, age 10 of NY wrote:
it lift up hi!!! I got 2 place on my science poject

Milaiza, age 10 of New York, NY wrote:
It actually worked. I was suprised!! I lifted a textbook.

Mia, age 8 of Joliet, IL wrote:
it was cool. I lifted a dictionary. it lifted it but after like 3 sec. it slided of.

Samantha, age 10 of CA wrote:
it was so cool it just lifted with the air. Awsome!

Rachel, age 9 of Battleford wrote:
It went in the air.

Matthew, age 5 wrote:
it got puffed up.

Samuel, age 5 of Calgary, AB wrote:
the book raised up.

Micah, age 9 of Jacksonville, FL wrote:
when I did it it just took off.

Bianca, age 12 of Blakely, GA wrote:
it flew in the air and flew back down.

not yet implemented