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Beginner's Guide to Propulsion
Air Temperature

Subject Area(s): Physical Science
Grade Level: 9
Time Required: 2 class periods
National Standards:

  • Unifying Concepts and Processes:
    • Evidence, models, and explanation.
    • Form and function.
  • Science as Inquiry: Understandings about scientific inquiry.
  • Physical Science:
    • Motions and forces.
    • Structure and properties of matter.


  • Research Tools - Use content-specific tools, software and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools - Routinely and efficiently use on-line information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.


  • You will study the effects of a change in temperature on gas molecules using a balloon and an Erlenmeyer Flask.
  • After observing changes in the balloon during the procedure, you or you and your group will, with the aid of the Beginner's Guide to Propulsion, offer an explanation of the changes and apply what you have learned to a gas turbine engine.
  • You will investigate a question you or you and your group have about pressure and/or gas turbine engines.

The Beginner's Guide to Propulsion is a Web site of information prepared by the NASA Glenn Research Center to help you better understand aircraft engine propulsion. Click on the Beginner's Guide Index to access the list of slides. Open the slides entitled Air Temperature, Engine Temperature Ratio (ETR), and Gas Turbine Propulsion. Read the descriptions. Use these descriptions as background information to help you complete the activity.


A. The pushing of the balloon inside the flask by atmospheric pressure is presented as an aid in visualizing the effects of air temperature, pressure, and force.

B. This lesson is a cooling effect and a jet engine is a warming effect.

C. This lesson works well when students are shown the end result initially and asked how the balloon was put inside the flask.


You will be assessed on the extent of detail provided by your observations and by the use of scientific concepts in your explanations as recorded in your journals.


You will be evaluated on your ability to research an extension question and present to the class information found in the Beginner's Guide to Propulsion on the World Wide Web. You are expected to be on task, and journals will be randomly checked.

Submitted by: Norma Holowach, Lakeview High School, Cortland, Ohio

Related Pages:
Propulsion Activity Index
Propulsion Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, May 13 02:38:39 PM EDT 2021

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