Now that we have tackled, Liquids and Solids, we move on to the scientific properties of Gas. There are three states of matter: solids, liquids and gas. Unlike liquids and solids, gases are a challenge to “see” because the particles are so small that they are almost invisible. We can collect gas when we blow up balloons or inflate a tire. Gas particles are supercharged, bouncing machines. Gases are not only very small but they have a lot of moving energy called kinetic energy and are constantly bouncing off of each other and the things around them. When a balloon is inflated, it is the gas particles that do the work, bouncing off of the balloon’s walls, pushing it bigger and bigger.
In this activity, students will see how gas can be made using a chemical reaction and how gas can be used to inflate a balloon.
Several empty and dry plastic bottles (a disposable water bottle is fine)
- Place 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in the empty balloon. Note: A funnel comes in handy for this step.
- Fill the empty bottle with 1-2 inches of vinegar.
- Attach the balloon to the top of the plastic bottle, but be sure not to let any baking soda get into the bottle.
- Lift the balloon and let the baking soda fall into the bottle.
- The liquid will begin to fizzle and the balloon should begin to inflate. Note: You may want to hold the rim of the bottle to be sure the balloon doesn’t fall off.
How It Works:
The baking soda and vinegar mix to form CO2 (carbon dioxide) which is a gas. When the gas is formed, there is nowhere for it to escape, but into the inside of the balloon. As the gas particles begin moving around, colliding with each other and the walls of the balloons, it is able to inflate the balloon.
There are lots of ways that chemicals help make our lives easier and also safer. Airbags work using a chemical reaction and so too do ice packs. Even those bright glow sticks are made possible by the wonderful world of Chemistry. Teaching elementary school students about chemical reactions is best done near sinks as these can be messy learning activities. For more ideas about how to teach young students and fun videos/songs about chemical reactions, visit: http://www.watchknowlearn.org/SearchResults.aspx?SearchText=gases
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