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LAB in Observations, Density, Temperature, Gas Laws, Density, Pressure, Measurements, Matter, Volume, Graphing. Last updated February 25, 2020.


In this lab, students determine the relationship between volume and pressure of a gas and its temperature. This lab also addresses the misconception that air does not have mass or density by having students determine the mass and density of air pumped into a bottle.

Grade Level

Middle School, High school

NGSS Alignment

This activity will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • MS-PS1-1:Develop models to describe atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
  • HS-PS3-2: Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative positions of particles (objects).
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
    • Developing and Using Models
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to understand:

  • that air has mass and density
  • the relationship of pressure and temperature for gases

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of

  • Gas laws
  • Matter
  • Density


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes
Lesson: 30–40 minutes



  • When you are done, ask the teacher to release the pressure on the bottle – do not do it yourself!
  • Always wear safety goggles when working in a chemistry lab.

Teacher Notes

  • Flinn includes a lab using the Fizz Keeper to show the relationship between temperature and volume (or pressure) of a gas. I find that my students often think that air has no mass and no density, so I adapted this lab to address that misconception.
    • Sometimes the Fizz Keeper pump seems to depress without offering any resistance, thus not pumping any air into the bottle.Do not count those as one of your “pumps.”
  • You may want to ask students to bring in a 2L bottle from home, giving them a deadline of several days before the experiment, or collect bottles from your own use, from other faculty, etc.
  • The thermometer you get may vary – tweak the instructions about how to read the thermometer as appropriate. If you do not get a stick-on/adhesive aquarium thermometer, you might consider placing the thermometer on the inside of the bottle. You also might need to help student in interpreting the readings, since sometimes the color changes subtly and you may have to make your best estimate. Here is a guide on how to read the aquarium thermometers:
  • It might be helpful to review the properties of gases and how to calculate density (D = m/V) at the beginning of this lab, particularly reminding them that gases can be compressed or can expand to fill the space available to them (in this case, the 2-L bottle). This will help students answer the last two analysis questions, as they may forget that the final volume of air is the volume of the container (2 L).
  • To scaffold some of the analysis questions, you can add hints, such as a reminder in #4 that the answer can be calculated from the final mass of the pump bottle minus the initial mass of the pump bottle, in #5 and #7 that the volume of the gas is the volume of the bottle, or in #6 that the answer is the mass of air originally in the bottle plus the air that was added (#4 + #5).

For the Student



  • When you are done, ask the teacher to release the pressure on the bottle – do not do it yourself!
  • Always wear safety goggles when working in a chemistry lab.


  1. Obtain two 2-L bottles, each having an aquarium thermometer attached to the side. One bottle has a cap on it and will serve as the control. The second bottle will contain a Fizz-Keeper pump on the top.
  2. Read the temperature by locating the value that has a light green highlight on it. Record the temperature and mass of the control bottle and pump bottle.
  3. Add the specified number of pumps of air into the pressure bottle. Add air pumps at a regular rate—do not add them too quickly.
  4. Record the new temperature and mass after each set of pumps, as well as any qualitative observations you make about the bottle.

Results & Observations

Bottle – Pumps Temperature (ºC) Mass (g) Observations
Pump Bottle – no pumps
Pump Bottle – 100 pumps
Pump Bottle – 200 pumps
Pump Bottle – 300 pumps


  1. Draw a representation of what the particles look like inside the bottle.
Particles with no pumps Particles after 300 pumps
  1. What is the relationship between amount of air in the bottle (number of pumps) and the temperature of the gas?
  2. Create a line graph to show the relationship between the temperature of the air and the amount of the air in the bottle (number of pumps). Be sure to fill as much of the provided graph as possible and include a title and labels for axes.

  1. What is the mass of air pumped into the bottle after 300 pumps? Explain how you got your answer.
  2. Calculate the mass of air originally in the bottle, knowing that the density of air at room temperature and pressure is about 1.2 g/L. Show all work.
  3. Determine the total mass of air in the bottle after 300 pumps. Explain how you got your answer.
  4. What is the final volume of air in the bottle?
  5. What is the final density of the air in the bottle, in g/L? Show all work.


Explain the relationship between number of air particles, pressure, and temperature and why you think these relationships exist.