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How does altitude relate to density?

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Subject Area: Physical Science

Grade Level: 6-8

National Science Standards:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to create and use models.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and the ability to perform scientific inquiry.
  • Apply an understanding of science and technology.
  • Demonstrate and apply an understanding of the properties of matter.

National Technology Standards:

  • Technology research tools: Use content-specific tools, software and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research; select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and solve problems.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools - Routinely and efficiently use on-line information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.


By using AtmosModeler computer simulation software, you will demonstrate an understanding of the properties of matter by applying them to density, pressure, and temperature.

Estimated Duration: 2 days

AtmosModeler is an interactive simulation software package that calculates the 1976 U.S. Standard Atmosphere properties. As you change parameters such as airspeed and altitude, the software calculates the pressure, temperature, speed of sound and Mach number. The package was created at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

AtmosModeler is a Java applet program that executes inside the browser of your computer. It is available on the World Wide Web at You can also download the program to run off-line.

You may change the values of the variables by using the airplane slider on the left of the screen.

To use the slider:

  1. Click the mouse pointer anywhere near the airplane.
  2. Drag the slider with the mouse.

To use the input box:

Simply select the value in the input box, key in the new value, and press Enter or Tab when finished. The button on the slider will move corresponding to the value typed in the box.

Use the simulation to gather information for the Density Problems and to check your answers. To begin the problems, click on Density Activity.


You, or you and your partners(s), will be evaluated on the accuracy or feasibility of your answers.


You will demonstrate the ability to use AtmosModeler to accumulate data and compare properties of matter, density, pressure, and temperature.

Submitted by: James P. Rinella, Big Walnut High School, Sunbury, Ohio

Related Pages:
Lesson Index
Aerodynamics Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, May 13 02:38:38 PM EDT 2021

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