In the Classroom

  1. PK – grade 5 students: You can inform the students that oxygen is essential for us to live and to breathe. You can set aside a few minutes to teach them to mediate to help regulate their breathing and expose them to the steps our bodies take to inhale and exhale. This can become hands-on  with the “Make Your Own Stress Ball”  activity, or simply a quick lesson teaching your students how the body works through breathing exercises. You can then quiz them on what we inhale, what we exhale, and what important muscle in the body we use in our body to help us breathe.
  2. Middle school students: You may want to reference what is listed above, but elaborate more on the functions and responsibilities of the human lungs, diaphragm, and the gases (Oxygen and carbon dioxide).Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 2.08.59 PM

Topics  From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes, atmospheric pressure, and motions and complex interactions of air masses.

Activity Title Make Your Own Stress Ball


  • Handheld air compressors
  • Inflation chamber/ vacuum units
  • Balloons
  • Sand/rice
  • Funnel
  • 5 oz paper cup
  • Q-tips
  • Vaseline/petroleum jelly


  • What happened in this activity? Would you be able to fill the balloon with the same amount of sand/ rice if you tried to fill it without the vacuum chamber?
  • Why did the sand/ rice prevent the balloon from shrinking back down to its original size?


  • No, you would not be able to fill the balloon with the same amount of sand/ rice without the vacuum chamber because that allows the amount of product within the balloon  be compact and hold the most that it can without any excess air taking up space.
  • The sand/ rice prevents the balloon from shrinking back down to its original size because it help expand the balloon itself and stretches it out, but not a whole lot.


  1. Insert the open end of a balloon through the copper tube on the bottom of an inflation chamber lid and secure the open end on the other side of the tube on the top of the lid. If needed, use a pen to push the balloon through the tube. Then attach to the container part of the vacuum unit, e.g., pull the mouth of the balloon around the end of the copper tube on the outside of the lid.
  2. Have the kids pump the air compressor to remove air from the vacuum chamber to inflate the balloon.
  3. If the vacuum chamber leaks, use some Vaseline and Q-Tips to coat the rim of the lid to ensure a better vacuum seal.
  4. Place the funnel in the mouth of the inflated balloon. Take a 5 oz cup and fill it up 2/3 of the way with sand or rice. Hand the cup to the child and let them slowly fill up the funnel with sand.
  5. Remove the balloon from the tube and tie off the balloon.
  6. The kids can decorate their stress ball with the markers if they wish.

Next Generation Science Standards

MS-LS1-3 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

  • Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.


  • Students know that Earth’s atmosphere exerts a pressure that decreases with distance above Earth’s surface and that at any point it exerts this pressure equally in all directions.

MS-ESS2-5.            Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.

  • Emphasis is on how air masses flow from regions of high pressure to low pressure, causing weather (defined by temperature, pressure, humidity, precipitation, and wind) at a fixed location to change over time, and how sudden changes in weather can result when different air masses collide. Emphasis is on how weather can be predicted within probabilistic ranges.


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