Interesting Science Objects: The Cartesian Diver

This is the second post in our series of Interesting Science Objects videos. These videos will be collected and made available for viewing at a single location when our Science 7–8 website, different from this blog, is up and running.

A glass eyedropper and an empty and clean two-liter soda bottle filled with water is all it takes to make a Cartesian Diver.  When the capped bottle is squeezed, the eyedropper sinks to the bottom. When the pressure on the bottle is relaxed, the eyedropper pops up.

The Cartesian Diver is well known to middle school science teachers, but the nine variations on the classic Cartesian Diver we show in the video may well be new to many teachers.

The Cartesian Diver is much more than a fun-to-play-with science toy; these important science principles are all used to explain the action of the divers shown in the video.

• Pascal’s principle

• Boyle’s law

• Vacuum

• Buoyant force (Archimedes’ principle)

• Pressure in a fluid

• Newton’s first law of motion (balanced and unbalanced forces)

Click on the video to join Mike and Jim in the AIMS science lab.

Be sure to click here to download a free PDF of the document shown at the end of the video.

Jim Wilson

Jim entered the teaching profession as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1965. He taught algebra and chemistry at the Aga Khan Senior Secondary School in Masaka, Uganda until his return to the United States in 1968. From 1968 until 1972 he taught middle school math and science in Tulare, California and then he and his young family moved to Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia where he taught mathematics at Keira Boys High School. From 1974 to 1994 Jim served as the Math, Science, and Computer coordinator for the Tulare City Schools district in Tulare, California. During this period he became a member of the original AIMS writing team and in 1994 took an early retirement from public education to join the AIMS team fulltime. Jim’s focus at AIMS is the Middle School Science project. Jim is also an adjunct faculty member at Fresno Pacific University enjoying teaching contemporary math courses.

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