Interactive Self-Study Module: Hydrostatic Pressure


This module uses screencasts and an interactive simulation to derive equations for hydrostatic pressure and demonstrate how they are used. Screencasts are used to show derivations of hydrostatic pressure for incompressible and compressible fluids. An interactive simulation and example problems allow the user to test themselves. Your retention of material in this module will increase if you write down reasons for your answers to ConcepTests, questions in screencasts, and questions to answer before using interactive simulations, and you try to solve the example problems before watching the screencast solutions. We suggest using the learning resources in the following order:

  1. Attempt to answer the multiple choice concepTest and example problem before watching the screencasts or working with the simulations.
  2. Watch the screencasts that describe the hydrostatic pressure and answer the questions within the screencasts.
  3. Review important equations for hydrostatic pressure.
  4. Use the interactive simulation to further understand pressures beneath a system of multiple fluids.
  5. Try to solve the example problems before watching the solutions in the screencasts.
  6. Answer the concepTests.
  7. Look at the list of key points, but only after you try to list the key points yourself.
  • Hydrostatic pressure is a fundamental concept in fluid mechanics and is used in storage tank design, scuba diving, and barometers. 
  • This module is intended for a fluid mechanics course. 
Before studying this module, you should be able to:
  • Use specific weights of fluids.
  • Derive the equation of motion for a fluid at rest with no shear stresses. 
After studying this module, you should be able to:
  • Calculate the hydrostatic pressure at any location within a fluid for incompressible, compressible isothermal, and compressible non-isothermal fluids. 
  • Compare pressures between different fluid container types. 
  • Compare hydrostatic pressures at different points through a fluid. 
  • Determine when it is reasonable to assume a fluid is compressible or incompressible.