This is a super simple science experiment, but one that’s impressive to young kids anyway. It’s so easy, I figured I had no excuse for not doing it at least once with my kids. I started by telling them we were going to blow up a balloon without having to blow into the balloon. (I guess technically I could have just gotten out a balloon pump at that point, but that would have been pretty anticlimactic.)
All this experiment requires is a little baking soda and vinegar, the same supplies that are used for numerous kid science experiments ranging from the mini volcano to the exploding sandwich bag. The reason it works is that baking soda (a weak base) and vinegar (an acid) react when placed in contact with each other and release carbon dioxide gas.
When the baking soda and vinegar are in open air, we see the gas as tiny little air bubbles that cause the mixture to fizz. When the reaction is closed off inside a baggie or bottle with a balloon attached, the gas is not able to escape. Instead it fills up the baggie or balloon. Fascinating, right? My 3 year old thought so.
In the experiments we did, we played around with the amount of vinegar and baking soda a bit, but were not able to make the balloon explode. If we had a bigger bottle, like maybe a 2 liter bottle, it would be fun to try again, though we should probably take the experiment outside in that case.
- about 2 tablespoons baking soda
- abut 1/2 cup vinegar
- empty water bottle (or other similar container with small opening)
Supplies & Tools:
- Use the funnel to add a couple tablespoons of baking soda to a balloon.
- Add about an inch or 2 of vinegar to the bottle.
- Carefully attach the balloon to the bottle without letting the baking soda fall in. Get excited!
- Lift the balloon up so the baking soda falls into the vinegar and watch in amazement as the balloon inflates.