Saturday, May 4, 2013

Can You Poke a Stick Through A Balloon Without Popping It? Learning About Polymers

During our morning meeting I asked my kiddos what would happen if I poked a bamboo skewer through a balloon.  Of course they said it would pop.  Are you sure? I asked them and then showed them the balloon above. Oohs and Ahhs abounded along with, "Mrs. Malloy, how did you do that?"

So... in my best teacher bribery way I told them that if they worked really hard and productively all day, I would teach them how to do it (of course I planned on teaching them how to anyway since it was in my lesson plan, but they didn't have to know that right?).

When the time for science finally came around, I told them that we were going to practice their skills of observation.  I was going to SHOW them how to do it, but I wasn't going to TELL them how.  I silently demonstrated and then handed out supplies.

Balloons were blown.
And then they attempted to poke.  A few balloons popped, but most of the students were successful on their first try.

And once they tasted success, they had to add a challenge - let's see who can poke the most sticks into the balloon without popping it!

Eleven was our class record!
The trick? Put vegetable oil on the stick to make it a little easier (optional) - then insert the stick at the bottom part (where the balloon is tied) and exit through the strongest part at the other end.

We then watched this video to learn about what polymers are:

And finished the lesson by making our own human polymer chains!

We will be learning about how scientists use polymers to clean up oil spills using a kit from Steve Spangler soon, but I wanted to give them a brief introduction before.  They loved it!

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