Tried But True Science

Looking for an experiment that has the cool factor? But you don’t want to use your food supply? Chillax Science got you covered! This blog post, is about the tried but true science demonstration that showcases Boyle’s Law. The infamous, soda can crushing.

The cool dude and famous Robert Boyle, told us (through what I call) a mathematical story, a science law. In that story, he deducted that every single time the total forces outside a system are different from the total forces inside the system, the object (i.e., system) will change.

That’s a mouthful! What does it mean in plain English? 

It means that if the pressure forces, inside a hot empty tin can are different from the pressure forces outside the can, the can will change/collapse. That happens the moment we place the hot can in the cold water. This is so because, the hot air inside immediately starts condensing. Hence, the internal pressure in the can is different from the pressure outside the can.

Want to try it? Yes? The steps below are meant for you to guide your children through the experiment. Of course, children can do this alone with precautions, if you think is appropriate for your child.

Step 1: Gather materials 

  • 1 empty soda can
  • kitchen tongs
  • boiling water
  • iced water

Step 2: Talk

Nothing is more important in science than to talk. Science talk, it is! Discuss with children the question, What do you think will happen to the soda can when we take it from boiling water to cold water?

Step 3: Do it

  • Cover the pan with water and place the soda can upside down. 
  • Heat the can for ~1 minute or until you see the water boiling.
  • Using tongs, place the soda can in iced water.
  • Observe what happens.

Here is the video on how to do it.  Warning, even after 20 years of doing this I still startle. 

Step 4: More science talk

Fun, right? Talk with your children about why the soda can crushed. Want to extend that learning? Here are two books I recommend. Click on the images to visit my Amazon store (at no additional cost to you.) These books also explain other science concepts that apply to this experiment.

We can’t wait to hear from you. Leave a comment!


Reizelie is a former homeschool parent and a trained science and Montessori teacher with a passion for curriculum development. She loves learning and teaching and on her spare time she helps families create home environments that enrich a child's learning. Reizelie has a PhD in science education and has been working in the field of education for the last 19 years. She loves helping teachers, schools, and homeschooling families improve their science curriculum in ways that are authentic to scientists' work.

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