Summer Reading Club Activity: Up, Up and Away (with Science)

Summer Reading Club started June 29th and the theme for the first week is Up, Up, and Away! We have TWO activities for you this weekend. The first is a very fun (and slightly messy) activity to learn about air:

Make a waterbottle air balloon!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A plastic water bottle (or any other bottle with a cap)
  • 1 balloon
  • A funnel
  • A teaspoon
  • 3-4 tbsp of vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp of baking soda

Pro-tip: Read all the instructions before you start as you have to move quickly in some steps of this experiment.

Set-Up:

  1. Use the funnel to put the baking soda into the bottle.
  2. Then measure out the vinegar and pour it all in at once.
  3. Very quickly have your child hold the bottle steady while you slip the balloon on. You need to be fast as the baking soda and vinegar reacts immediately.

This is the finished product! The reaction poofs the balloon right up!

The Science

The balloon is filling with carbon dioxide in order to expand. Acetic acid present in vinegar will readily react with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to form sodium acetate with the effervescence of carbon dioxide. (Effervescence is the forming of bubbles in a liquid – fizz!) Vinegar and baking soda is a simple acid and base reaction. Cool science, huh?

The equation for the reaction is:

CH3COOH + NaHCO3 = CH3COONa + CO2 + H2O.

If you want to learn more, grab your library card and head to our ScienceFlix Database to check out their articles on chemistry and kitchen experiments!

Extend the Fun

You can experiment with the variables in this activity!

  • What happens when you change how much baking soda or vinegar you use?
  • What happens when you use a different size of bottle?
  • What does it smell like? (ewwww)
  • What does the reaction look like? Can you draw it? 

Make Mini-Parachutes!

Our second activity for this weekend is a simple, fun craft that helps you learn more about aerodynamics. (Aerodynamics is the study of how air moves around a solid object.)

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • A plastic bag
  • String or yarn
  • Measuring tape
  • tape
  • A small heavy object (like a plastic animal or a metal washer)

Set-up:

  1. Cut the plastic bag into an approximately 12 inch square. Put that aside, then take up the string and measure four 16 inch pieces.
  1. Tape each piece of string to one corner of the plastic square. Then tie all 4 pieces to the heavy object. Children will need help with the tying! We didn’t tape our ends, so ours looks a little different.

After we tied our styracosaurus (we named him Arnold because he’s an aeronaut) to the parachute it looked like this:

Your parachute is now ready to drop from high places! Try dropping it from the top of some stairs or a slide at your local park. To explore the properties of air with your child (and figure out how this thing works) you can check out our articles at ScienceFlix!

We dropped Arnold first from the library stairs. He had a bit of a bumpy landing, but made it safely to the ground. So, we looked for a higher place. We climbed the stairs up, up, up and dropped Arnold from the third floor of the Civic Building, down into the atrium, just outside the Kamloops Library. It was awesome! Take a look:

Bonus:

If you liked this experiment, you can supersize it by using a large garbage bag and slicing it in half lengthwise. Use a stuffed animal for your large weight!