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Popping Balloons

4.1 based on 21 ratings

Updated on May 23, 2014

Grade Level: 7th -10th; Type: Physics

Objective:

Observe the surface of a balloon as it pops.

The purpose of this experiment is to see what happens to the surface of a balloon in the moment of its explosion.

  • What types of scientists study explosions?
  • What does a good understanding of explosions help people understand?
  • Why is it important to know what happens to an exploding object?
  • What are explosions used for.

A balloon pops in the blink of an eye. It happens extremely quickly; too quickly to successfully observe. Using a camera to take photos of the popping while it is happening will allow the process to be observed. This can help people better understand what happens to the surface of a hollow object when it explodes. Though most of us don’t come into contact with exploding objects in our daily lives, understanding the properties of an explosion is an important part of a number of different fields. Explosions must be studied in order to set off pyrotechnics or to work with various types of weapons.

  • Balloons
  • A needle
  • A tripod
  • A digital camera with an option to take multiple pictures while only pressing the shutter button once (most modern cameras have this option)
  • A friend to help

If you don’t have a camera of your own you can borrow one from a friend or relative.

  1. Set up a camera on a tripod.
  2. Face the camera towards a blank wall, about 10-15 feet away.
  3. Blow up a balloon with air from your lungs.
  4. Tie the end of the balloon off.
  5. Hold the balloon in front of the blank wall and have your friend confirm that it is in frame.
  6. Have your friend take pictures as you pop the balloon with a needle.
  7. Examine the surface of the balloon in the photographs you take.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 with different types of balloons and balloons filled with different amounts of air.
  9. (optional) Repeat steps 3-6 with balloons filled with different gasses, such as helium from a party supply store, or even with water or shaving cream.

Type of paper

Number of folds

Construction 9x12

Construction 4x6

Printer 9x12

Printer 4x6

Tissue 9x12

Tissue 4x6

Terms/Concepts: Explosion; Pyrotechnics; Surface tension; Popping; Hollow

Writer and educator Crystal Beran is rarely seen without a pen. Her adventures have brought her to four continents and her quest for answers has led her to discover more questions than she could fill all the pages with. She currently resides in Northern California, where she can be found sipping tea and writing books.

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