Recently my kids found my stash of balloons. I bought them for birthday party decorations, but my kids had other plans. They helped me think outside the box for creative ways to use the balloons besides just fun decorations. So over the next few weeks I will be sharing fun and easy STEAM Activities and Experiments involving balloons!
This week we’re doing a classic experiment to inflate a balloon using a baking soda and vinegar chemical reaction. In this simple but exciting experiment the balloon will “magically” inflate because of the chemical reaction created by the combination of baking soda and vinegar.
My kids are huge fans of baking soda and vinegar reactions. This chemical reaction never fails to inspire awe and excitement in my kids! We have done many experiments involving baking soda and vinegar over the years (see a few of our favorites below).
- Empty plastic water bottle
- Baking Soda
- Fill the water bottle about 1/4 full with vinegar.
- You need 2 people for this step (I held open the balloon, while my kids added the baking soda).
Person 1: Pull the balloon opening open as wide as possible.
Person 2: Scoop up 3 teaspoons of baking soda, and carefully pour each teaspoon into the balloon.
- Carefully secure the balloon opening onto the top of the vinegar-filled water bottle (but don’t tip the baking soda contents into the bottle yet).
- Lift the top of balloon until it is above the opening in the water bottle. Allow the baking soda to fall into the vinegar in the water bottle below.
- Watch the chemical reaction bubble in the water bottle and the balloon start to inflate! My kids were so excited and impressed by how quickly it blew up the balloon.
STEAM Concepts Learned
Baking soda is the common name for the base sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Vinegar is a mixture of acetic acid and water known as dilute acetic acid (CH3COOH). The baking soda and vinegar reaction is an acid-base reaction. The baking soda (base) wants a proton, and the vinegar (acid) wants to get rid of a proton.
The chemical reaction is written as:
NaHCO3(s) + CH3COOH(l) -> CH3COONa(aq) + H2O(l) + CO2(g)
When baking soda and vinegar are mixed together in water they form sodium acetate – a salt (CH3COONa), water (H2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2). This happens quickly and the carbon dioxide is released as a gas – which is what creates the fizz, foam and bubbles that are observed in the water bottle, and the CO2 gas is also what inflates the balloon!
My kids loved this experiment so much we did it 4 times in a row! You can do it over and over again using the same supplies, just dump out the used baking soda and vinegar from the water bottle and start again!
Let me know if you try this simple and fun experiment this summer with your kids!