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Easy, at-home science: Balloon blow-up

Science isn’t just for science class! Science is simply a way of thinking about life rationally, exploring questions about our world, and being amazed! Make science part of your family’s daily life with these easy at-home activities.

 

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Balloon Blow-Up

You will be a star when you do this activity for your kids. It’s even good for parties! Then, build your child’s confidence by allowing him/her to dare others to inflate a balloon without blowing into it.

 

Materials:

- Empty/Recycled bottle

- Baking soda

- Vinegar

- Empty balloon

 

Procedure:

Ask your child to stretch out the balloon, either by blowing it up and letting out the air repeatedly, or by pulling on it. Using a funnel or small spoon, fill the empty balloon with about 2 tablespoons of baking soda.  Fill the bottle about 1/3 full with vinegar.  Without letting any of the baking soda out, carefully place the opening of the balloon around the bottle spout so that it is fully covered.  Lift the end of the balloon and gently shake the baking soda into the vinegar. Watch the balloon inflate!

What’s going on?

This is a classic Acid-Base Chemical Reaction.  Chemical reactions occur when two liquids mix, “trade” electrons and atoms, and form something new. Vinegar is an acid, which likes to “steal” elections, and baking soda is a base, which readily “gives” electrons. When the vinegar and baking soda mix, a chemical reaction occurs, creating two new substances: “salt” water and carbon dioxide gas. Due to its energy, the carbon dioxide gas expands out of the bottle and into the balloon.

 

After doing it once, let your child play around with the reaction.  Together, devise some hypotheses for what might happen if some variable is changed.  What if the acid is changed to lemon juice, or the amounts are varied? What if soap is added to the vinegar? How long will the balloon stay inflated (we have one going on two weeks at home!)? There are endless combinations possible, so let their imaginations loose.

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