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age: 10 – 16

Feeling pressure

Holding a pencil between your fingers for a few seconds makes it easy to remember what pressure is – because you literally get to feel it.

Learning objective

Pressure is force per area.

Linking the abstract concept of pressure to a memorable experience.

Student Task

Hold a sharp pencil between your index fingers.

1. Why do the two sides feel different?

Guiding Questions (if needed)

Is the force the same on the two ends?
› Yes, it is.

Why does the tip pushes further into the skin than the numb side?
› Because the force acts on a smaller area, thus increasing the pressure.


While the force between the fingers and the pencil is the same on both sides, the pressure on the tip is much higher, because the force is applied to a smaller area.