Activity 2: To determine if air occupies space


AimThis activity is to determine if air occupies space.

Material Required:

  • Clear plastic cup
  • Napkin
  • Water
  • Basin or small container
  • Newspapers or drop cloth


1. Prepare a table by covering it with newspapers or a drop cloth and place a container on table for water spillage.
2. Fill an aquarium or other large container with water.
3. Crumple a napkin and stuff it into a plastic cup.
4. Turn the cup upside-down and plunge it completely into the water. Do not tilt the cup.
5. Remove the cup from the water, and extract the napkin.
6. Observe whether the napkin is wet or dry.

Working of Model:

Gas, solid, and liquid are states of matter found on Earth. One of the basic characteristics of matter is that it occupies space. An observer can “see” a glass of milk sitting on a table. The milk and table are objects that occupy a measurable part of the total volume or space in the room. Although air is present in the room with other matter, a visual aid is necessary for an observer to “see” that air occupies a portion of space as well. In this experiment a plastic cup containing air and a crumpled napkin are turned upside down and placed into a container of water. Air and water cannot occupy the same space at the same time, therefore the napkin remains dry.