Welcome to Five Minute Science where we offer up cool science experiments you and your kids can do together using everyday household items, in about five minutes!

In this experiment, you get to give a balloon gas and learn some science too, from the experts at Let's Talk Science.

Purpose:

To demonstrate how gas is created as a result of a chemical reaction.

Be sure to ask your child what he or she thinks might happen before you do the experiment – what result is expected when you mix vinegar and baking soda together? What will happen to the balloon?

The Experiment

Materials:
  1. Baking soda
  2. Vinegar
  3. Plastic bottle (we used a water bottle)
  4. A balloon
  5. A funnel
Process:
  1. Using a funnel pour baking soda into the balloon until it is ½ full.
  2. Clean the funnel or use a different one to pour vinegar into your bottle (until it is about 1/3 full).
  3. Place the opening of the balloon over the opening of the bottle. Make sure you don't let the baking soda fall into the bottle just yet.
  4. When the balloon is on tightly, lift the balloon but keep a hold on where it attaches to the bottle or use an elastic band to hold the balloon on. Let the baking soda fall into the vinegar.
  5. Observe what happens in the bottle and to the balloon.
Explaining the Science:
Did you see the vinegar bubble up when you added the baking soda, and the balloon blow up? Why do you think that happened? The scientific explanation is that vinegar is an acid, baking soda is a base, and when you mix them together they create an acid-base reaction. In this case, the reaction created a gas called carbon dioxide. Gases need room to expand, so once the carbon dioxide filled the bottle, it moved into the balloon and inflated it.
 
Curriculum Connection:

This experiment is simple, safe and appropriate for any age. In the Ontario Science and Technology curriculum, Properties of Liquids and Solids is taught in Grade 2 and Properties of and Changes in Matter is taught in Grade 5.

Extra Credit!
  • Freeze coloured vinegar, then drop into a pan with baking soda and water (250 ml water, 5 ml baking soda). What happens?
  • Try using different solids and liquids and see what happens: e.g. combine water with dish soap and add 5 ml of baking soda, or combine vinegar and dish soap and add 5 ml of baking soda.
  • Remember to ask your kids to predict what is going to happen first, then ask them to discuss what really happened, and why they think that occurred.