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The Early Years: Air Is Not Nothing

by: Peggy Ashbrook

Children usually begin to understand that a substance called air is all around us after age three, but they don’t grasp that air is matter until age five, or even older. They may learn that “air is a gas” but have difficulty naming the substance that fills a soap bubble or explaining how a balloon expands, and they don’t understand where a gas released by opening a soda or mixing baking soda and vinegar comes from or where it goes. Yet, amid these ideas, early childhood is rich with opportunities for students to experience a range of gas behaviors; even if they can’t name or explain them. The lesson in this month’s column allows students to experience air’s mass and the force it can exert on objects.

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Type Journal ArticlePub Date 12/1/2008Stock # sc08_046_04_12Volume 046Issue 04

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