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Student Organization: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

Title of Activity

Ketchup Catastrophe

Content of Subject Area

Mechanical Engineering: Fluid Dynamics

Length of Video

10 minutes

Duration of Activity

~15 minutes


General Objectives



Pressure’s effect on fluid flow


Understanding the relationship between pressure and area.

Learning Outcomes


What do you want students to know and be able to do?


What knowledge, skills, strategies, and attitudes do you expect students to gain?


What important math/science and engineering or computer science applications will students learn?


What are the safety protocols you should take.

Students can visually see the difference between a small and large outlet under pressure.


Students gain a basic understanding of fluid dynamics. With pressure staying the same, changing the nozzle area will increase/decrease fluid velocity.


Safety protocols include replicating the experiment outside in an open area.

Materials and Resources


- 1 ketchup bottle

- box of baking soda

- empty water bottle w/ flip cap lid

Instructional Procedures


Why should students care about this topic or activity? How does it help them learn about engineering or computer science?


What “big” questions will generate discussion about this topic and what engineering, or computer science is?


(Reference Grand Challenges when possible - tie back to earlier videos)


Ask, which bottle will shoot liquid faster?

Which bottle will shoot further? Why?


This concept can be used to solve HVAC problems: the AC ducts at school will need more pressure to move air throughout the building compared to your house’s AC.