Balloon Sink or Float Engineering Challenge

Today I’m welcoming a friend of mine over to Left Brain Craft Brain for a simple and fun Balloon Sink or Float Engineering Challenge.  Take it away Jamie!

Hi, I am Jamie from Hand Made Kids Art. We incorporate a lot of activities that help develop and encourage creative thinking and problem solving for kids. This simple engineering activity for kids requires minimal materials and will have your child thinking and exploring how to make a balloon “flink”! This post contains affiliate links.

This balloon sink or float experiment is a fun and easy to setup engineering challenge for kids.  Perfect for STEM learning at home or classroom.

What is a Balloon Flinker?

A balloon that doesn’t float or sink, it flinks!

Activity Objective:

Make a helium filled balloon float mid-air without rising or sinking.

Balloon Sink or Float Supplies Needed

  • Helium filled Balloon with attached ribbon
  • Rolled Magazine Pages (or small objects such as paper clips or washers)
  • Tape
  • Scissors

Step 1: Ask your child to predict, “what will happen when you let go of the balloon?”. It will rise to the ceiling because of the helium.

balloon_flinker_ceiling_wm

Step 2: Brainstorm different ideas with your child of how to add weight to the balloon. 

Step 3: Make the balloon “flink” (float mid-air without rising or sinking), aim for at least 10 seconds of “flinking”.

How we did it:

We first tried adding a clip to the bottom of the ribbon and the balloon sank right away. Next we tried attaching various rolled sheets of magazine paper (we had a bunch left from a previous project).

balloon_flinker_weight_wm

We added one magazine roll and the balloon still floated to the ceiling. We added a second roll of magazine and the balloon sank to the floor. I asked my 5 year old what could we do to subtract weight and he came up with cutting the roll of magazine to a smaller size. I loved watching his critical thinking skills at work.

balloon_flinker_cut_wm

We proceeded to go back and forth with adding weight and subtracting to get the balloon to “flink”. It took awhile but when we successfully got the balloon to “flink” my two young engineers were jumping up and down celebrating our flinking success.

The Science Behind It:

Gravity forces the balloon down but the helium (which is a gas and is lighter than air) inside the balloon pushes harder than the gravity forcing the balloon up towards the ceiling. 

By adding weight to the balloon you are making the balloon heavier and therefore it sinks to the ground. Add the right amount of weight to make it “flink”.

For more ways to encourage creative thinking and engineering activities for kids you may enjoy, Build a Rain Shelter, Pendulum Painting Made Easy or Simple Machine Brain: A creative drawing challenge.

Hand Made Kids Art

Jamie is a certified Art Instructor having taught children of all ages. In addition to inspiring young minds and creating for Hand Made Kids Art, she is a busy mom of 3 children. Hand Made Kids Art focuses on quick, easy and inspiring art activities to grow creative kids. It doesn’t matter if you only have 5 minutes or 20 minutes, you can find time to create art with your children with Hand Made Kids Art.  Follow along with our art adventures at Hand Made Kids Art, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Also be sure to check out her amazing book full of STEAM projects for Preschoolers {affiliate}.

Balloon Sink or Float Engineering Challenge HMKA for LBCB FB

2 thoughts on “Balloon Sink or Float Engineering Challenge”

  1. We have done this before and it’s always fun! We used washers and added them until the balloon “flinked.”

  2. Pingback: 20 balloon activities for kids

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