Does Air Take Up Space? Science Experiment for 1st grade

Air is all around us all the time. We need air to breathe, without it we would survive. We usually do not see the air around us but we know it’s there. You may noticed it when the wind blows, or when it’s really cold outside you may see it when you breathe. It’s everywhere!

We know that the air surrounds us, but does it take up space?

Let’s find out !by doing this fun and easy experiment below.  It is perfect for children in Kindergarten and 1st grade.

Scientific Method

In this experiment you will follow the scientific method.

  1. Ask the question
  2. Formulate a hypothesis: Make an educated guess
  3. Complete the experiment
  4. Gather Data (you gather the data by watching what happens in the experiment)
  5. Conclusion: What did you discover?


  1. A piece Paper towel enough to roll it into a ball.
  2. Tall drinking glass
  3. A pitcher or bowl of water (The pitcher or bowl of water must be taller than the glass)


Does air take up space?


What do you think? Does air take up space?

Experiment/Watch and gather data

In this experiment you will use a paper towel and a glass to fin out if air takes up space. Watch what happens during each step of your experiment. This is how you will gather the data.

Step 1

Crumble up the piece of paper towel.  Place the crumbled-up paper towel into the glass.  Push down so the paper towel is at the bottom of the glass.

Step 2:

Turn the glass upside down. Make sure that the paper towel doesn’t come out.  If it does put it back in and push it down.

Step 3:

Quickly place the glass upside down in the picture or bowl of water so the entire glass is underwater.

Step 4:

Quickly take the glass out of the water.

Step 5:

Turn the glass over and take the paper towel out.  Is it dry?

The answer should be…Yes!


The paper towel ball is dry because air take up space!  The glass was filled up with air.  So when it was placed upside down in the water, the water could not fill in the glass because the air was already in there.  

The air in the glass creates pressure, that pressure was greater than the water pressure trying to get in.


After you put the glass in the water tilt it a little.  You will see bubbles.  These bubbles are caused by the air exiting the glass and the water going in.