S.T.E.M. Activity: Making a bouncy ball

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Robot and I were having a movie night last night, all snuggled up in bed, when suddenly he said, ‘Mum? What are those balloons for?’. I had two packs of plain yellow balloons in my blogging ‘To Do’ box you see, ready for this experiment. I told him they were to make a bouncy ball with and he wanted to make it right then and there, so we did!

Konnie Huq, who spent over ten years craft-making on Blue Peter, is supporting a campaign by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to inspire more children to consider careers in engineering. The toys are designed to make learning about science, tech, engineering and mathematics (STEM) more accessible and affordable. This  S.T.E.M. bouncy ball activity is from Konnie Huq’s S.T.E.M Toys Guide and is really simple to do. It cost me around £2.00 for the balloons and that’s literally all I had to buy.

The steps are simple and can be done by children, though you do need an extra pair of hands to help out.

Step One: fill one balloon with a little bit of water, until it fits into the palm of your hand.

One you’ve got the water inside the balloon (it’s a two man job), tie the balloon and snip off the end as below.

Step Two: Cut the neck off the rest of your balloons

You can either do this to all of your balloons before you get started, or cut-as-you-go like we did. It really makes no difference.

Step Three: Put a jacket on your balloon

Stretch another balloon and put the water filled balloon inside, then stretch out what is left of the neck and cut it so that where it snaps back there is no neck left. You may need help with this, it can be tricky!

Step Four: Wrap, wrap, wrap!

Repeat this process until you have made at least 15 layers. For a really bouncy ball use 30 layers. We used 18 – I bought 20, the baby had one to play with an we lost one somewhere along the way. Standard!

Step Five: Test time!

How bouncy would 18 balloons actually be? I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular and when we came downstairs to test it I just hoped that Robot would be pleased with whatever the outcome was.

To make your own bouncy ball and to get other S.T.E.M. activity ideas, have a look at Konnie Huq’s  guide on the Engineer a Better World website.

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