My Favorite Science Fair Experiment: Balloons!

Question: Find out how much pressure is needed to pop a balloon?

Looking for an easy, but hands-on and fun science fair experiment? My kids, and by kids I mean I, have done this one twice. My nieces and nephews, and by nieces and nephews I mean my sisters, have done it a few times as well. It is always a big hit, and it isn’t very messy. You will learn about Physics … Force, Area and Pressure.

Pressure = Force / Area

You will need:

  • Regular party balloons (if your school allows the kids to try the experiment at the fair, get at least 100)
  • 100  2 1/2 inch nails with a head (not finishing nails)
  • 2 foam boards, each about one foot square (needs to be think enough to hold nails but thin enough at least 1 1/2 of nail pops through (Craft stores sell them)

Directions:

1. In one foam board, put one nail through it in the center.

2. In the other foam board, stick as many nails as can fit through the board, close together through the foam board in about an 8 inch diameter in the center of the board.

3. Blow up a few balloons (do not over-inflate.)

4. Press a balloon on the one single nail. It should pop very easily.

5. Using the same amount of pressure, press a balloon on the many nails. It shouldn’t pop unless you press very, very hard.

Concept:
The force is less because the pressure is distributed over a greater surface area, requiring much more pressure to create enough force to pop the balloon.

In 2020, my boys will be doing this experiment, so if you are at Ridge school, kindly leave it to me that year. I’ll be way too old to think of something new.

Here’s Another Fun Project: How to Make Rainbow Colored Roses:


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, Wellness Coach, and founder of Tips From Town. She is passionate about sharing her medical expertise, her coaching techniques and her parenting experience to encourage happier and healthier lives.

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