I saw this experiment on the Steve Spangler experiment of the day email and thought “WOW! the kids would love this!” The experiment teaches you about what latex rubber is made of (long molecules), and when you blow up a balloon, some areas will stretch further than other areas. I attempted to talk to the boys about the science behind the experiment, but in all honesty, I think they tuned me out when I brought out the sticks and balloons. This is a very simple set up, but you do need nerves of steel, or at least ear plugs, if your kids really just like popping balloons.
- balloons (I used 8″ latex ones)
- bamboo skewers
- permanent marker (I used Sharpie – do NOT use dry erase, as it came off the balloon easily)
- oil (doesn’t matter, I used cooking oil)
You want to coat the skewer with a thing coat of oil (I used a paper towel). Then, push the skewer through the ends of the balloon – near the end that is tied, and near the top.
Not pictured – the oil we used. But it was just to coat the skewer. Simple experiment set up!
Our experiment: Can a stick go through a balloon without popping?
Both boys answered with a resounding “NO!”
We took our balloon
Then we drew dots all over it in various places
We then blew it up and checked out what the dots looked like. We talked about how the balloon stretches (the long rubber molecules), but it doesn’t stretch evenly. That was why some dots got “faded” and looked bigger, while other dots looked the same. The more stretched out dots meant a thinner area of the rubber.
You can really see the different here at the top of how little the balloon had stretched and how much the dot had NOT changed.
And the moment of truth...SKEWER THROUGH BALLOON! It totally worked. The bonus is also that when you take the skewer out, the balloon doesn’t pop! (it does hiss air though and deflates)
Here’s a video showing my 3yo doing the skewer pushing through the balloon. Totally fun science experiment!