Learning With Balloons: Fun and Easy Tricks and Experiments

learning with balloons

Balloons are great for parties and games. But did you know, they can also be a fantastic educational tool? Their stretchy nature and ability to hold liquids and gases make them perfect for educational science experiments.

A word on safety

Before you start, it’s important to follow these basic safety precautions:

  1. Wear eye protection for anything that goes bang or pop
  2. If using heat or flames, make sure you’re in a safe area
  3. Do not leave children unattended, and use the opportunity to teach them about safety.

 

Three quickies

In this video tutorial from experienced YouTuber DaveHax, there are three simple and surprising balloon experiments, demonstrating some vital scientific principles…:

  1. Pushing pins through balloons. Push one pin in – pop! Push multiple pins in – the pressure is distributed, so the balloon is safe.
  2. Save your breath. Bringing together vinegar and baking soda means the balloon will inflate without you having to blow it at all. (But we think a helium canister is an easier option!)
  3. Keep cool and carry on. Surely a candle will burst a balloon, right? Not if that balloon is filled with water, and so counteracts the candle’s heat…

 

Skewer party trick

Threading a balloon onto a skewer shouldn't be possible, but this video (another from Dave Hax) shows how it’s really not that hard. It’s a short, memorable demonstration of lubrication and pressure – a science lesson and a party trick, all in one.

 

Balloon in a bottle

This one is a great demonstration of air pressure, and can be a tricky – and fun – puzzle to solve. The challenge: take a balloon that’s inside a plastic bottle, and fill it with water. The obvious (and wrong) solution: just blow up the balloon while it’s in the bottle (this is actually impossible). The real solution: pierce the bottle, so air can escape, and allow the balloon to expand. This video shows some of the fun you can have with experiments like this…:

 

Balloon bath rockets

Are you looking for ways to make bath time a bit more fun? Balloon rockets aren’t just great for a giggle – they’re another vivid demonstration of physics in action. Just don’t expect the kids to sit quietly and take notes…!

balloon bath rockets

Hot air expands

Show how hot air expands with this simple balloon experiment. As the heat from the water dissipates into the air, the molecules move faster and further apart. This creates more pressure inside the balloon, making it inflate. The image below is taken from a real exam paper!

hot air balloon

Credit: Oldschool.com.sg

Build your own barometer

balloon barometer

This one is a little bit more involved, and best suited to older children. It involves making a barometer, using a balloon and a cup. You can build a chart to track changes in the atmosphere over time – a great ongoing project that helps children to understand climate and seasons.

 

Thank you to all of the YouTube stars and science bloggers for sharing their fantastic experiments. Do you have any more to share? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

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