Whirling Wonders: Unveiling the Secrets of the Screaming Balloon Experiment

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Today’s experiment is super easy to set up and easy for your child to do themselves.

The Whirling Wonders Screaming Balloon experiment is an opportunity to talk about centripetal force (on a very basic level) along with vibration and sound with very minimal supplies. It’s a fun and fast science experiment with several lessons inside of it!

Ready to rock and whirl? Let’s do it!

How to make the Whirling Wonders Screaming Balloon science experiment

Supplies you will need

For this experiment, you will need the following:

Supplies needed for the Whirling Wonders Screaming Balloon experiment

Before you start

Make sure there are no sharp edges on the hex nut or other circular object you place inside of the balloon, or you might pop the balloon during the experiment (and give everyone a scare!).

Instructions

Here is how to do this experiment with your child:

Step 1: Place the hex nut into the balloon

Carefully stretch open the opening of the balloon and place the hex nut (or marble, penny, etc.) inside.

Gently move the hex nut down into the body of the balloon.

Carefully inserting the hex nut into the balloon
Carefully pushing hex nut down into body of the balloon

Step 2: Inflate and tie off the balloon

I suggest an adult do this part, just in case the hex nut finds its way back into the neck of the balloon and close to where you inflate it.

Blow up the balloon and tie it off with the hex nut inside.

Inflating balloon (notice the hex nut inside the body of the balloon)
Tying off the balloon

Step 3: Spin the balloon rapidly

Now the fun part!

Hold the top or bottom of the balloon and start spinning it rapidly. The hex nut should start moving along the wall of the inside of the balloon.

Video of rapidly spinning balloon and resulting sound

The science behind the Whirling Wonders Screaming Balloon experiment

This experiment teaches:

  • Centripetal force
  • Vibration and sound
  • Critical thinking and fine motor skills

How it works

This easy sound experiment involves spinning a balloon around rapidly to make the hex nut inside of it spin along the inner walls of the balloon.

The spinning motion allows the hex nut to vibrate along the walls of the balloon, which then produces a sound.

This experiment is also an example of centripetal force (for the older kids), which is the net force that keeps the hex nut spinning around the inside of the balloon.

Centripetal force

When the hex nut is spinning around the inner walls of the balloon, centripetal force is acting on that hex nut.

Centripetal force, in simple terms, is the net force that keeps an object spinning around a central point.

Vibration and sound

The movement of the hex nut within the spinning balloon creates vibrations, which in turn produce sound waves. This shows how motion can generate sound.

The speed at which the balloon is spun affects the frequency of the sound produced. This can lead to a discussion about how different frequencies result in different pitches of sound.

Critical thinking and fine motor skills

They may also be encouraged to think critically about why the balloon makes a sound when spun, connecting it to the motion of the hex nut and the resulting vibrations.

This also exercises fine motor skills, if you allow your child to insert the hex nut into the balloon.

More sound experiments to try out with your child

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