The balloon science experiment is a hands-on way for preschoolers and kindergartners to explore states of matter, liquid, solid, and gas while introducing early physics.
The balloon experiment is a fun science kids activity to explore states of matter hands-on. Matter makes our planet and the whole universe, and it exists in various states, for example, solid, liquid, or gas. However, not everything on Earth is matter. For example, energy, like light and sound, are not matter, although we use matter to generate energy.
Water is the easiest matter for little minds to understand and explore. Under different conditions, matter converts from one form to another. Water, for example, is a compound that exists in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. The solid form of water is ice, the liquid form is water, and the gaseous form is called steam or vapor. The best way to describe to children these physical changes is to show them in practice. Little ones love seeing science in action.
To help children grasp the concept of solid-liquid-gas, add a sensory twist to your science lesson. Little ones learn best by seeing and touching. However, you can not do it with gas. So, this is where the balloon comes to the rescue.
You’ll Need for Balloon Science Experiment
- 3 balloons of the same color
- a freezer
First, measure 1/2 a cup of water and fill one balloon with it. Then, fill another balloon with 1/2 cup of water with freeze it. Thereafter, fill the last balloon with air. Lastly, present all three balloons to your child. Ask a child to touch each, explore the matter and describe how it feels.
Use adjectives like hard, squishy, soft, etc. Kids science experiments are a great tool to expand your child’s vocabulary.
States of Matter Balloon Science Experiment
Solid matter is hard. It has shape and volume, consisting of molecules that group tightly and can’t move around. For example, a table, a chair, metals like gold, brick, wood, as well as cars, books, and the human body, are examples of solid states of matter.
The liquid state of matter has no shape but it will take the shape of a container it is in. Liquid has a thickness and may be of different colors. For example, oceans, seas, rivers, water in your cup or in a pool, juice, and milk are all examples of liquid. The liquid matter consists of molecules that can move around because they bond to each other not very tightly.
Gasses surround us in the air. We can walk through the gas, and we don’t feel it, and we cannot hold it. Molecules of gas move freely since they are spaced apart. For example, helium is a gas that we use to inflate the balloon. Since helium is lighter than air, it makes a balloon float. Moreover, oxygen is a very important gas. We humans, along with many other creatures, need oxygen in the air we breathe to stay alive.
You can also weigh the balloons with liquid and frozen water. For example, while liquid water and frozen water have different names and some different properties, the kind of matter remains the same, and the weight does not change. Thus, on a scale, they will balance out. The volume, however, is not conserved since the water expands as it freezes.
⚖️ Just because the volume (size) of the matter increases (as with frozen water), does not mean the weight increases too. The weight remains the same even though the volume increased.
The Density of Water & Ice
Unlike other solids that sink when placed on water, ice floats on the liquid form of water. This unique behavior of water had sparked many discussions since both ice and water are water. However, water and ice do not weigh the same. For example, if we take the same volume of water and ice in the same container, water would weigh more than ice.
The reason is that water is denser than ice and the space it occupies is less as compared to that occupied by ice. The freezing of water into ice results in the discrete molecules of water expanding, hence occupying more space. It is estimated that the volume occupied by the ice is 9 percent more than that originally occupied by water. In the process of turning into solid, the molecules of water expand to occupy more space. Consequently, the same volume of water and ice have varied densities and thus different masses. Therefore, ice floats on the water since its density is less than that of water.
Why Does Ice Float?
Ice floats on water because it is less dense than water. The Archimedes Principle states that for an object to float on water, it has to displace an equal amount of water. Usually, solid objects are denser than liquids. The logic is backed up by chemistry since the molecules that make up solids are tightly bound to each other, making them more compact. Thus, they are weightier than liquids and gases. However, ice is an exception because it is less dense than water, and thus floats on it.
The fact that ice floats on water is very important for various reasons:
One of the most significant reasons is the support of life for aquatic organisms. If the density of ice would have been higher than that of water, the ice would have sunk, crushing organisms such as fish and plants since the ice would have compressed them. Moreover, floating ice balances the temperatures of water and the atmosphere. Thus, fish, whales, and plants, as well as many other living things are protected from extreme weather conditions.
Have you tried the States of Matter Balloon Science Experiment? Leave a comment if you did.
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