Family Time Calendar: Get Smart - iVillage

Here's an experiment you can do with your kids that will magically inflate a balloon -- with nary a puff of air from you. For older kids, it's a great chemistry experiment that shows not only the difference between liquids and gasses, but also what happens when two unfriendly liquids meet and produce gas (not the rude kind, of course...). Younger kids will just be amazed at how the balloon seems to expand without air.

What you'll need:
Big glass jar with a narrow opening (a Heinz vinegar jar is a good example)
White vinegar
Baking soda

What you'll do:

  • Fill the jar halfway with a mixture of half vinegar, half water.

  • Put a funnel in the balloon and slowly fill it with baking soda.

  • Stretch the balloon opening over the top of the jar. Be very careful to keep the baking-soda-filled part of the balloon off to one side -- it's not time to pour the baking soda into the jar yet (although a bit may go in and start fizzing).

  • Now, for the moment of truth: Lift the balloon up and let the baking soda fall into the water-vinegar mixture. Bubbles and more bubbles will begin to form, and the balloon should inflate.


Are Your Kids Asking Why?
Tell them that when baking soda (chemically known as sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (also known as acetic acid) mix, they react and create a gas called carbon dioxide. That carbon dioxide gas was what caused the balloon to inflate. Carbon dioxide is the same thing drink manufacturers add to make soda fizzy.

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