I made ScienceFix.com to share my favorite demos that I do in my middle school science classes.  

Contact Me
Search ScienceFix.com
Media that I like...
  • Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon
    Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon
    by Sara Howard
  • NOVA - Origins
    NOVA - Origins
    starring Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • Human Body: Pushing the Limits
    Human Body: Pushing the Limits
    starring Bray Poor
« Borax Crystal Ornaments | Main | Using Magic as a Discrepant Event »

Condensation Balloon Trick

This past unit in science we covered states of matter and how they change. Students have to understand how molecules move at each phase and the energy involved. There are a ton of demos that show the phase changes and this is one of my favorites. All that you need is a large flask, water, a water balloon, a hot plate and tongs. I have my students draw diagrams of how the molecules are arranged and moving at each phase and the transitions inbetween. They also have to determine if heat energy is being added or taken away in each change. Even in the digital age, I think students benefit from simple pencil and paper drawings. The drawings are really models that explain the scientific phenomena. When the balloon gets pushed into the flask, it is a very dramatic demonstration of a liquid taking up less space than a gas. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (25)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (8)

Excellent demo. I just covered a similar concept in my chemistry class. I might have to revisit it soon, just to have a reason for this demo. Thank you for this.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Robinson

Thank you so much for sharing these ideas! This is a great way to get students thinking about science. I agree that it is important for the students to be able to draw what is happening, and not just be able to identify a pre-drawn image. Thanks again for posting!

Kimberly Bunge

November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Bunge

That is really an interesting concept to have students think critically about. How well do your students do with their hypothesizes.

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Hi my name is Adam I am an Undergraduate Physics Education Major at Illinois State University. I thought your YouTube demo for the condensation balloon trick was very cool and I may end up using it in my classroom someday. Another activity you might try doing is taking a helium balloon outside on a cold winter day. Students will see how temperature affects pressure. You could try doing a demo of a small hot air balloon.

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Very cool. Egg drop is similar.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne M. Littrell

I am a pre-service teacher and I can see you do a lot of demos for your classroom. Do you come up with these demos on your own, or do you have a resource that helps you? These are some cool demos and are easy enough to do in a classroom.

April 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSammy

Hey Darren,
This project was part of the inspiration for a piece of content I wrote for Scientific American's Bring Science Home. I included a link to your blog at the end of the article. Check it out.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMack Levine

Thank you so much. Very honored to be mentioned in your article!

April 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterDarren Fix

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>