The Pressure Concepts Concept Builder is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Concept Builder can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

We're going to be honest: we do Physics. That's why this is called The Physics Classroom website. And when we do the Teacher's Notes section for our Concept Builders, we typically have a lot to say ... and a lot of resources to point you to. We're not claiming to be ignorant of chemistry; we just don't have a lot of resources here at The Physics Classroom to point you to. And so this page is going to be a lot shorter than our usual page that accompanies our Physics Concept Builders. That's our honest confession.

We've always believed at The Physics Classroom that concepts were fundamentally as or more important than calculations. This is not our intent to minimize the importance of calculations. For certain we believe a Physics (or Chemistry) curriculum should be filled with ability-appropriate calculations. But our hope is to maximize the importance of concepts. Our science courses - Physics and Chemistry - should be more than a math course where students simply learn equations and how to use them to solve "problems." Our courses should be filled with concepts, conceptual reasoning, critical thinking, and logic-based decision making. This Concept Builder demonstrates our passion for conceptual reasoning. While our other gas law Concept Builders have more of a mathematical bent, this Concept Builder expresses our interest in concepts. Even when math is performed, conceptual reasoning will be at the foundation of student success. For instance, the numbers that are used in the second activity are numbers that lend themselves towards reasoning logically towards answers rather than dependence upon an algorithmic unit conversion approach.

There are three activities in this Concept Builder. Those three activities are differentiated as follows:
  • A Versus B: Question Groups 1-6 ... Given a comparison of two samples of gas based on four contrasting variables, the sample with the highest pressure must be determined.
  • Pressure Units: Question Groups 7-10 ... Given a diagram of three pressure gauges utilizing three different pressure units (atm, psi, and mm Hg) for three different gas samples, the three samples of gas must be ranked according to their relatie pressure.
  • Manometers: Question Groups 11-14 ... Given an open-end manometer diagram with mercury levels and height differentials and the atmospheric pressure, the pressure of the gas sample must be determined.

The questions can be found on our Questions page. We encourage teachers who are considering the use of this Concept Builder in their class to either preview the questions or (better yet) try the Concept Builder themselves.

Like all our Concept Builders, this Concept Builder utilizes a variety of strategies to make each student's experience different. The ordering of questions is random. The Question number assigned to each question is scrambled. For instance, two side-by-side students will not have the same question for question number three. And questions are organized into "groups" with questions within the same group being very similar (for instance, they have the same type of information as "givens") but not identical. And finally, the multiple choice answer options are scrambled each time the question is delivered to the students' screen.

The Concept Builder also keeps track of student progress. It requires that students demonstrate a mastery of questions in each Question Group. If they miss a question from one group, then they will have to answer two consecutive questions correctly in order to demonstrate mastery. Progress is displayed in the progress report on the right side of the Concept Builder. A star indicates a demonstration of mastery. A question with a red background indicates that the student has missed the question. And a question with a yellow background means that thestudent must get one more questoin from that Question Group correctly answered in order to obtain a star. When an activity is completed, the student will be awarded a Trophy. This Trophy is displayed on the Main Menu screen. These strategies make the Concept Builder an ideal addition to the 1:1 classroom and other settings in which computers are readily available. 

In order to complete an activity, a student must correctly analyze each question of that activity. If a student's analysis is incorrect, then the student will have to correctly analyze the same or very similar question twice in order to successfully complete the activity. This approach provides the student extra practice on questions for which they exhibited difficulty. As a student progresses through an activity, a system of stars and other indicators are used to indicate progress on the activity. A star is an indicator of correctly analyzing the question. Once a star is earned, that question is removed from the que of questions to be analyzed. Each situation is color-coded with either a yellow or a red box. A red box indicates that the student has incorrectly analyzed the question and will have to correctly analyze it twice before earning a star. A yellow box is an indicator that the question must be correctly analyzed one time in order to earn a star. Once every question of a difficulty level has been analyzed, the student earns a Trophy which is displayed on the Main Menu. This system of stars and trophies allows a teacher to easily check-off student progress or offer credit for completing assigned activities.

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this Concept Builder is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the activity from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise.