How To Make A Ping Pong Ball Float In The Air

How To Make A Ping Pong Ball Float In The Air

How To Make A Ping Pong Ball Float In The AirCan a ping pong ball float in the air?  Nope.  Not unless you’ve got a hair dryer!  With this fun and easy science project you are going to learn about how the forces of gravity and air pressure work.  So grab your gear and let’s get started!

 

What you need:

  • 1 ping pong ball (2 or 3 would be even better!)
  • A hair dryer

 

How to do it:

1. Plug in the hair dryer and turn it on (a cold setting would be best for safety).
2. Put it on the highest setting and point it straight up.
3. Place a ping pong ball above the hair dryer and watch what happens!

 

Why it works:

The ping pong ball will float above the hair dryer, spinning and bobbing gently, but will not fly out of the stream of air!  The fast moving column of air produced by the hair dryer (remember to have it on the highest setting) causes an area of low pressure as it speeds past the ball.  Since the pressure inside the column of air is lower than the pressure in the surrounding, stationary air the ball cannot move outside the stream.  If you look closely, you’ll see that the ball wobbles while it is levitating in midair.  The ball is attempting to leave the area of low pressure, but the higher air pressure surrounding it forces it back into the low pressure area.

Our gravity lesson comes into play when examining how high the ball goes before it gently bobs back down a bit.  The hair dryer’s rush of air pushes the ball skyward until its upward force equals the force of gravity that is pushing down on it.  At that point the two forces are equal and that’s where it stays as it floats above the hair dryer and does not fly across the room.

 

For some extra fun:

  • Can you move or tilt the hair dryer without making the ping pong ball fall?
  • Try to float more than one ping pong at a time!  Use different colored balls (or use white balls & colored markers) to make it fun and easy to see which ball is which.
  • See if you can “juggle” the balls while they float in the air.
  • What happens if the ping pong balls are dented or crushed?

 

How To Make A Ping Pong Ball Float In The Air

 

 

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