Some things in this human being just don’t mix—dogs and also cats, oil and also water, needles and balloons. Everyone knows the a balloon’s worst are afraid is a sharp object . . . Even a sharpened wooden food preparation skewer. V a little scientific knowledge around polymers, you’ll have the ability to perform a seemingly difficult task—pierce a balloon through a wood skewer without popping it. Suddenly piercing takes on a whole new meaning!

Experiment Materials

Bamboo cooking skewers (approximately 10 customs long) cooking oil or dish soap Sharpie pen Nerves of steel

The very first step is come inflate the balloon till it’s virtually full size and also then let around one-third the the waiting out. Tie a knot in the end of the balloon.

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If you closely examine the balloon, you’ll an alert a thick area of rubber at both end of the (where you tied the knot and also at opposing end). This is whereby you will certainly pierce the balloon v the skewer, but not yet. Store reading.


Coat the wood skewer through a couple of drops of vegetable oil or food soap (being mindful not to accidentally gain a splinter). Together you more than likely guess, either liquid functions well together a lubricant.


Place the sharpened tip of the skewer top top the thick finish of the balloon and push the skewer right into the balloon. Be cautious not to jab yourself or the balloon through the skewer. Just use gentle pressure (and perhaps a tiny twisting motion) come puncture the balloon.


Push the skewer all the means through the balloon until the tip of the skewer touches the opposite finish of the balloon, where you’ll find the various other thick section of the balloon. Save pushing till the skewer penetrates the rubber. Breathe a large sigh the relief and take a bow!

Gently remove the skewer from the balloon. That course, the air will leak out of the balloon, but the balloon i will not ~ pop.

Let’s execute it again, however this time you’ll check out the hidden “stress” in a balloon.

Before blowing up the balloon, usage the Sharpie pen to draw about 7–10 dots ~ above the balloon. The dots should be about the dimension of a dime. Be sure to attract them at both ends and also in the center of the balloon.

Inflate the balloon half full and tie the end. Watch the assorted sizes of the dots almost everywhere the balloon.

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Judging native the size of the dots, wherein on the balloon room the latex molecules stretched out the most? Where room they stretched out the least?

Use the monitorings that you made previously about the dots top top the balloon to decision the ideal spot to puncture the balloon with the skewer. The course, the object is no to popular music the balloon!

How Does it Work

The mystery is to use the part of the balloon where the rubber molecules room under the the very least amount of tension or strain. If you could see the rubber that makes up a balloon ~ above a microscopic level, you would see countless long strands or chains of molecules. These long strands of molecule are referred to as polymers, and also the elasticity of these polymer chains reasons rubber to stretch. Blowing increase the balloon stretches this strands that polymer chains.

After drawing on the balloon v the Sharpie marker, you most likely noticed the the dots ~ above either finish of the balloon were relatively small in comparison come the enlarged dots in the center section of the balloon. You’ve simply uncovered the area of the very least stress—the ends of the balloon. You wisely decided to pierce the balloon at a suggest where the polymer molecules were extended out the least. The lengthy strands of molecules stretched around the skewer and kept the air inside the balloon from rushing out. When you removed the skewer, you felt the waiting leaking out with the holes whereby the polymer strands were propelled apart. Ultimately the balloon deflated, yet it never popped, right?

Trying to pierce the balloon in the center section is nearly impossible unless you have some aid from a item of clear tape. Normally, the long chains of rubber molecules space under so lot stress or tension that lock tear conveniently with the little puncture. The clean tape help to host the rubber molecule in place, staying clear of them indigenous tearing apart as soon as the balloon is punctured. In an effort to fool the civilization who know exactly how to push a skewer with the end of a balloon, magicians will certainly secretly location pieces of clean tape in the middle section of a balloon to store the balloon from popping once they puncture the balloon in this “forbidden” area. It’s just another way to make even the smartest world say, “How did you perform that?”

Aside native learning about the scientific research of polymers, the Skewer through the Balloon activity can be used as a an excellent way to demonstrate a life class on how to technique a potentially stressful situation. The an essential to approaching any stressful instance is to find the area of least stress and also to use this as an entry allude as you effort to relieve the tension. In various other words, every stressful case has a “best suggest of entry” and requires a great exit strategy if you are going come be successful in diffusing the possibly volatile situation. That a an excellent object lesson at any kind of age!

Take it Further

Pushing a skewer with the end of the balloon is a an overwhelming task, but attempting the very same thing in the center of the balloon is difficult . . . Uneven you have actually a few pieces of clear tape. Blow up a new balloon and also place a little piece of clear tape in the center of the balloon. Place the sharpened allude of the skewer in the center of the tape and also carefully press the end of the skewer right into the balloon there is no popping it! shot it again, yet this time usage a directly pin or the sharpened end of a safety pin. What role does the tape beat in keeping the balloon from popping?