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Avogadro’s Law and Order: Investigating a Rocket Launch Failure

Experiment #5 from Forensic Chemistry Experiments

Education Level
High School


Avogadro’s theory states that equal volumes of different gasses at the same temperature and pressure contain equal numbers of particles. In chemistry, small particles in large numbers are typically counted using the mole concept. Just as 1 dozen of anything contains 12 items, 1 mole of any substance is equal to 6.022 × 1023 particles.

The pressure limit for a plastic 2 L soda bottle is 150 psi. Your lab has been asked to safely determine how many compressions of the bicycle pump were actually performed to reach a pressure of 150 psi in a plastic bottle.

You will use an Erlenmeyer flask and syringe system as a scale model of the 2 L bottle and bicycle pump system. You will plot the pressure as you successively add equal volumes of air to the flask. You will scale up these data to determine the pressure exerted on the 2 L soda bottle from the same number of pumps.

Then you will repeat this experiment with carbon dioxide gas to see if changing to a different gas would make a difference.


  • Use a scale model to investigate the changes in gas pressure as fixed volumes of gas are added.
  • Analyze data to develop a mathematical model that can predict the volume of gas needed to reach the pressure limit of a 2 L bottle.
  • Use mathematical representations to compare the rates of change in pressure for air and carbon dioxide as fixed volumes of gas are added.
  • Communicate scientific and technical information and ideas about how to determine the cause of the 2 L bottle explosion.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.


Teaching to an educational standard? This experiment supports the standards below.

International Baccalaureate (IB) 2025/Chemistry
Structure 1.4.6—Avogadro’s law states that equal volumes of all gases measured under the same conditions of temperature and pressure contain equal numbers of molecules.

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This experiment is #5 of Forensic Chemistry Experiments. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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