Activity Ideas and Examples

Balloon Science Experiment

Purpose

This is a simple science experiment that you can try with your loved one. It involves the use of some of the same materials and skills used in the Colorful Sand Bottles activity. This activity is easy to set up and uses materials often found around the house. After trying this activity, ask your loved one if he or she would enjoy demonstrating this experiment for a grandchild, niece or nephew.

Supplies Needed

  • Twelve-ounce glass bottle - A clear soda or beer bottle is perfect for this activity. However, any 12-ounce bottle will work. Make sure it is clean and dry.
  • Funnel - You will need a clean funnel to fill your bottles. These are typically available in plastic or stainless steel.
  • Measuring cup - A basic 8-ounce liquid measuring cup is perfect for this activity.
  • Balloon - A balloon is required for this activity. These are available wherever party supplies are sold, although you probably already have some in the drawer where you keep your birthday candles.
  • White vinegar - This experiment will also work with other types of vinegar, such as cider, malt or red wine vinegar, but why waste the good stuff?
  • Baking soda - Common household baking soda is required for this activity.
  • Measuring spoons - 1 Tablespoon is all you need.

Instructions

  1. Set up. If it is possible to place everything on a tray, that would be great. If you do not have a tray, then a clutter-free table would be fine. Gather all of the materials required for the activity, and place it in front of your loved one. Sit on his or her dominant-hand side (on the right if he or she is right handed, and on the left if he or she is left handed) so that you can do this activity together.
  2. Begin the Activity. Pour ½ cup of vinegar into your measuring cup.
  3. Insert the funnel into your bottle and then pour in the vinegar.
  4. Rinse and dry your funnel. (This is important!)
  5. Insert the funnel into the opening of the balloon.
  6. Holding the wide end of the funnel up with the balloon attached to the bottom, spoon two Tablespoons of baking soda into the funnel and down into the balloon.
  7. Carefully remove the funnel.
  8. Stretch the lip of the balloon over the opening of the bottle.
  9. Lift up the balloon so that the baking soda falls into the bottle and mixes with the vinegar.
  10. Observe the reaction and how the balloon expands.
  11. Discuss the chemical reaction that is occurring.
  12. The reaction of an acid (vinegar) combining with a base (sodium bicarbonate, or “baking soda”) creates a gas (carbon dioxide). Also, a liquid (vinegar) is combining with a solid (baking soda) to create a gas (carbon dioxide), which is filling the balloon.
  13. Demonstrate the steps of the activity for your loved one, but let them perform each step. (You may want to have the steps written down, if your loved one can read, so that they can go through steps themselves with practice.)
  14. Discuss the activity by asking your loved one if he or she has done this before. Discuss other science experiments that you did in school.
  15. Ask if he or she would like to teach this experiment to a young grandchild, niece or nephew.

Adaptations and Variations

More Challenging.

Ask if he or she would like to try other experiments that can be demonstrated to children and look up other together ideas online or at the local library. Work with him or her to prepare a script that can be used with the lesson.

Less Challenging.

If your loved one has difficulty with any of the tasks involved in this activity, you may perform these while he or she guides you or just watches.

If your loved one is unable to perform most or all of the physical steps of this activity, let him or her observe as you conduct the experiment. Pause after each step to discuss what you are observing. Ask what she or he thinks comes next and what will happen. Use the activity as a basis for reminiscing about school days and discussing the education of the young members of your family.

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