Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I am delighted to welcome Curt Nelson to my blog today. He is a former science teacher and school assembly presenter. Now he (and Bob the Dragon) make learning science fun at MakeAKidnection.com. Curt will share how to entertain your children with a funny-sounding balloon.
How to make noises with a balloon

What happens:

Your child spins a hex nut inside a balloon, producing vibrations that create an eerie humming sound. And believe it or not, that humming sound helps Bob the Dragon find his lost dog. Yeah, you'll have to keep reading to see how that plays out.

The Motivation

We also wanted to introduce a reason for doing this experiment, so Bob the Dragon and I shot a short video about why we need to build a bazzoon-a-phone. Watch this with your kids, and they'll have a reason to do the experiment - to help Bob find his lost dog, Max.

Think like a scientist:

This "experiment" usually doesn't involve any "experimenting." The parent or teacher tells the child exactly what to put in the balloon. Sure it's fun, but the children miss out on the sense of discovery that is so important to real science.
To add the sense of discovery back in, we don't tell our young experimenters what will make the humming sound. Instead, we give them three options to test, as shown in the picture below. So now they can hypothesize (aka, guess), which one will make the sound, and then do an experiment to test their hypothesis.
Try different things inside the balloon!

What you'll need:

1) 9" or 12" latex balloons
2) A hex nut - I used a 1/4" nut, but any size you find out in the garage will work. In fact, for further exploration, you can compare the sound from different size hex nuts.
3) A penny and a paper clip.
See the video below for a step-by-step demonstration of exactly how to do the experiment.

The Science Behind It

The young lady in the picture below is causing the hex nut to "do laps" around the inside of the balloon. The hex nut acts like a wheel, but it isn't perfectly round. It has six flat sides. Now imagine driving a car with wheels that have six flat sides. The car would bump and jar its way down the road. That's what the hex nut does. It bumps and jars the balloon repeatedly.
Those bumps and jars cause the balloon to vibrate, which makes the eerie humming sound the young lady hears. The faster she causes the hex nut to "do laps," the faster the vibrations in the balloon, and the higher pitch sound it makes.
Parents may find the noise annoying, but Max loves it! So thanks for helping us find Max!

Making noises with Bazoon-a-Phone The Bonus Fun

Then, to reward your kids for doing such a great job during the experiment (and to remind them that science is fun!), show your kids this bonus video starring Max and follow along with Kurt on Make a Kid Connection on YouTube.

Your Turn

Surprise Your Kids with Noise Making Balloon
What kind of fun science have you done with your kids lately?

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Ticia said...

Not super a lot, my kids have it in their heads to finish history for the year and want to make this a super busy history week......

curt said...

Thanks for letting me share with your readers, Natalie!

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Neat activity!

My kids have been raising silkworms. We are now waiting for them to emerge from their cocoons...