Science Experiments Using Balloons

My boys just love balloons; don't most kids?  It seems like we always have extra balloons in our closet.  I pull them out when the boys are bored they make up games to play with them.  Today we decided to try a couple of quick and fun science experiments using balloons.

We had checked out a few science books for Ian last week while at the library.  He really loved the title and cover photo for the book called Fire Bubbles and Exploding Toothpaste.  He was excited to try all the experiments and while I loved his enthusiasm we just didn't have all the supplies for every experiment.

He settled for one or two today and we gave them a try.

We tried making a fireproof balloon and putting a skewer through a balloon

We needed:

  • 5 balloons
  • a candle (on a tray of some sort)
  • wooden skewers- three of them
  • cooking oil
  • tape
  • marker 

I made Ian read and get out all the supplies needed for our experiments and then, since it required a candle flame I carried out the experiment for/with him.

First we tried out the Fireproof balloon experiment and blew up a balloon and held it over the candle.  It burst almost at once.

the first balloon popped right away!
Then we took another balloon and while it was still deflated we filled it with water then blew it up and knotted it.

Holding the balloon straight up and down (which forces the water to the bottom) I was able to hold the candle right up to the balloon!

The second balloon turned black on the bottom! 
The balloon even blackened with soot at the bottom but did not pop!

Eventually, if you hold the balloon over the flame long enough it will pop (and get water everywhere!).

We noticed that the balloon with the water did not burst into many pieces like our first balloon, but just popped a small hole where the soot had been.  We read the description of how it works in the book and found out that it is all about heat transference and what a great conductor of heat water really is.

We then moved onto skewering a balloon.

There were three variations of the experiment listed and we tried out all three.

First we blew up a balloon and then let out 1/3 of the air.  We tied it in a knot and using a wooden skewer lubricated with a bit of cooking oil we were able to pierce the balloon near the knot and push it right out the other side (where the latex is darker and more forgiving).  It was really neat!

Next we tried drawing dots on the balloon with permanent marker and then blowing it up about 1/2 way.  We looked for places where the marker dots were smaller and darker (the spots where they weren't stretched as far and therefor under the least amount of stress) and put our lubricated skewer through them.

We read that the polymers in latex are what allows us to stretch and manipulate them.

For our final experiment we tried to make a hole in the sides of the balloon.  This is harder to do since the sides of the balloon are under the most stress.  In order for this trick to work you need to add a strip of clear tape where you plan to pierce the balloon.

 It was fun running a bunch of science experiments and all three boys were eager to watch and participate.
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