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A Balloon Science Experiment to Understand the Effect of Gases

In between our artful activities, we do some simple science experiments that are really fun as well as enhance creative learning.

Such experiments encourage an understanding of the physical world and how things work. They serve as perfect nourishment for the young curious minds.

We keep doing experiments and activities from this online resource put up by Arvind Gupta. And, recently we also bought a book that explains scientific facts with the help of practical experiments and projects.

Yesterday afternoon, we read some basic facts about gases, studied about volcanoes and the effect that the gases given out by volcanoes can have. 

This was followed by a simple, age-old experiment using baking soda and vinegar – something that I also use for our every-day house cleaning needs – as eco-friendly substitute for the harmful cleaning agents. But, that's another story.

This experiment also involves balloon, which Pari absolutely loves playing with, like any other kid. 

The things we needed other than baking soda, vinegar and balloon were – a clean dry glass bottle and a clean dry funnel.

As the pictures suggest –

  1. Pari placed the funnel in the top of the bottle
  2. She poured some baking soda (about 4-5 tea spoons)
  3. She then poured some vinegar (enough to cover the baking soda)
  4. We quickly removed the funnel and fitted the neck of the balloon over the top of the bottle (I did this real quick so that the gas should not escape)
  5. We noticed that the vinegar and soda start fizzing and give off bubbles of gas
  6. The balloon starts to blow up because of the pressure or force of the gas in the bottle

The excitement in the air was palpable! It was not just Pari and her friend Sama who were wonder struck, I, too felt like a kid elated at our achievement!

But wait, the delight was replaced by dull, sullen expressions at the very next attempt…

Next time, the balloon just refused to blow! What a sad sight. Pari had added enough baking soda and vinegar, the bottle was dry and I was quick to fit the balloon over the bottle but it reacted in just the opposite way. The folks at the Artful Parent had a similar experience with the same balloon experiment.

Was it the bottle that made the difference? The glass bottle in the previous attempt Vs. the plastic soda bottle in the next one?

Or, may be the diameter of the bottle's mouth? The plastic bottle had a bigger mouth compared to the glass bottle.

Or, the fact that the plastic bottle had a spiral neck, which did not let the balloon fit tightly enough and the gases leaked as a result?


So, we will stick with the same glass bottle the next time we repeat this experiment.

Have any of you tried any other interesting and simple science experiments with your kids?

I would LOVE to hear!

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