Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gizmos, Gadgets & Goo -- Week 2: Bang! Balloon-a-mania

Ever heard a balloon scream, or made a balloon brain?
Join us as we explore a bonanza of balloon possibilities! 
(Part of Fizz, Boom, Read Summer Reading Club)
For kids entering grades 1-5

(Many of these ideas were taken from ndolat’s wonderful Balloon Bananza!   http://cheshirelibraryscience.wordpress.com/category/motion/ –  Her ideas and text are interspersed with my additions below.)

Opened with 8 volunteers doing reader’s theater with Shel Silverstein’s poem 8 Balloons (the rest of the kids helped with all the “pop”s!): http://www.shelsilverstein.com/media/fun/printable_files/EightBalloonsBooklet.pdf (page 1)

Asked kids who had seen the demonstration of a water-filled ziploc bag pierced with sharpened pencils (which we did at our school visits for Fizz Bang Read!)?   Then asked for volunteers, one sat underneath bag, others pierced it….asked “anyone know why this works?” explanation: plastic made of polymers.  rubber in balloon works same way…

The Properties of Polymers: Experment: The Balloon Skewer -- “Balloon on a Stick” (Teen volunteer did this demo for us…later, during the stations section of the program, teen helped kids try it.) The rubber in balloons is made of long strands of molecules called polymers -- the elastic quality of the polymers allows the balloon rubber to stretch.

Materials and technique for this and the 3 experiments below at: http://cheshirelibraryscience.wordpress.com/category/motion/

READ: Balloon Trees by Danna Smith (overview of process of balloon making from tapping the trees through finished product.)

Centripetal Force Experiment :  The Spinning Penny  The Spinning Penny  A single penny is placed inside a clear balloon. The balloon is inflated and tied off with the penny still inside.  After shaking the penny a bit, the balloon is then swirled to help start the penny on a circular path inside the balloon itself. Due to the limited amount of friction, the penny can stay on its circular path for close to 30 seconds before gravity begins to slow it’s path!
ndolat’s explanation:  The word “centripetal” is actually Latin for “center seeking.” And that truly describes this force. Without centripetal force, objects would not be able to travel in a circular path (they would only be able to travel in a straight path). One example is how a satellite orbits the earth. In this case, the centripetal force is supplied by earth’s gravity (think of it like an invisible thread that links the earth to the satellite and keeps the satellite moving around the earth in a circular orbit). Another example is the swings ride at an amusement park, where the centripetal force is supplied by the chains that link the chairs to the central pole. Jeff Williams on the International Space Station (ISS), shows that, due to centripetal force, the bubbles in his iced tea package move to the center of the package and form a large, singular air bubble when the package is put into a circular path.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs2orRFuolk

Friction: Experiment:  The Screaming Balloon -- variation to The Spinning Penny. For The Screaming Balloon, used a 1/4” size zinc hex nut…ndolat’s explanation: The nut also moves on a circular path within the balloon due to the centripetal force we supply, but there is more friction between the hex nut and the balloon thanks to the shape of the nut, and thus we get a high-pitched whining sound!

READ: June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner (engaging fantasy of balloons carrying a vegetable experiment into space)

Balloon RocketsNewton’s 3rd Law of Motion (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction)  Experiment: I blew up a balloon and asked which way it would go when I let the air out, then demonstrated how they could make balloon rockets:    On a rocket “track” – a pair of chairs with some kite string strung between them (like a zip line) and a straw was threaded onto each string, then inflated (but not tied off) balloons can be taped on to the straws. When the air is released, the straw rocket will go to the other side.  Similar idea at: http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/balloonblastoff.html -- try to hit a target with balloon and ingenuity.

“What goes up must come down…”
Main event: make helmets to protect our balloon “brains” (similar to the classic “egg drop” but less messy cleanup! http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/balloonbrain.html
Materials: water balloons (teen volunteers added faces drawn with Sharpies), soft and protective materials (egg cartons, cardboard, newspaper, etc.), masking tape.  We made the rule that they could cover every part except the eyes (so our our balloon heads could “see” where they were going).  After kids made their “helmets”, we went outside to see which sustained “head injuries” in their falls.  The kids were quite creative, we got lots of different designs and had a chance to discuss how their designs worked (comparing “crumble zones” to the way automobile hoods are made, multiple egg carton bumps similar to the Mars Rovers, etc. – mechanical engineering at its best!)clip_image005
Similar idea at: http://thriveafterthree.com/2014/07/22/fizz-boom-read-egg-drop-with-school-agers/

Another possibility (skipped this because did something similar last week):
from http://hookedonscience.org/files/EXPERIMENT_ARCHIVE_Expanding_Balloon.pdf or use Balloon Inflation Demo http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/yeastpartii.html

7/2014 BWL


  1. Thanks for the ideas! I'm going to use these.

    1. And I loved the ideas in your program: http://thriveafterthree.com/2014/07/14/tower-building-with-the-school-age/
      In fact, I plan to use the book "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers" as a lead-in to the bridge building program I'm planning for next week.


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