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Introduction to Gay-Lussac's Gas Law: Temperature, Pressure and American Football


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Grade Level Grades 9-12
Resource Type Handout, Lesson Plan

About This Lesson

This lesson provides an introduction to Pressure, Temperature and Gay-Lussac's Gas Law, using as an example the Deflategate controversy that took place in the sport of American Football in January 2015. The main learning objectives are: (1) to define temperature and pressure; (2) to introduce the concepts of absolute pressure and absolute temperature, including the use of Kelvin measurement units; (3) to use Gay-Lussac's law to predict how the pressure of a fixed container of gas, such as a football, will change due to an increase or decrease in temperature; (4) to compare predictions from a physical law with experimental measurements of the same quantity; (5) to introduce the concept of measurement error and to discuss sources of uncertainty in pressure and temperature measurements; and (6) to use the Ideal Gas Law to compute the amount of gas that would need to be added or removed from a fixed volume of gas, held at constant temperature, to achieve a given increase or decrease in pressure. Two examples of classroom activities for the breaks include: measuring the pressure of a football or other sports ball that has been moved from the classroom to a colder and/or a warmer environment; computing the average of the measurements obtained for the Patriots' footballs at the 2015 NFL AFC Championship Game. This lesson has no pre-requisites and should take students about an hour to complete. (More time will be needed to duplicate cooling or heating of a football or other sports ball, e.g. by putting it in a cooler with ice or an oven with light heat.)

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Lesson Plan
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Temperature, Pressure and American Football: Introduction to Gay-Lussac's Gas Law
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