Experiment While Making A Bouncy Ball

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Amy Huntley is a former science teacher and Mom that runs a great blog where she shares activities that she has done with her family. This exploration of polymers and bouncing balls  caught our eye and we were happy that Amy would share it with us. We’ve adapted it just a bit. The fun part is experimenting, and it is easy to make several of these and change up the recipe and check results. Note that this will not make a bouncy ball like you get at the grocery store, but ours bounced over a foot high and the ball has quite a unique feel to it.

You will need:

  • Borax (found in laundry section)
  • warm water
  • corn starch
  • glue (clear glue makes a see transparent ball and white glue makes an opaque ball)
  • 2 small mixing cups
  • a stirring stick (plastic spoon)
  • food coloring (optional)

ball3Procedure:

  1. Label one cup ‘Borax Solution’ and the other cup ‘Ball Mixture’.
  2. Pour 4 ounces (120ml) of warm water into the cup labeled ‘Borax Solution’ and 1 teaspoon of the borax powder into the cup. Stir the mixture to dissolve the borax.
  3. Pour 1 tablespoon of glue into the cup labeled ‘Ball Mixture’. Add 3-4 drops of food coloring, if desired.
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the borax solution you just made and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the glue. Do not stir.
  5. Allow the ingredients to interact on their own for 10-15 seconds and then stir them together to fully mix.
  6. Once the mixture becomes impossible to stir, take it out of the cup and start molding the ball with your hands. The ball will start out sticky and messy, but will solidify as you knead it. Once the ball is less sticky, continue rolling between your hands until it is smooth and round!

ball1

Amy adds:

“My boys loved making these “bouncy” balls. They are not super bouncy like the plastic super balls that became popular when I was a kid, but they are pretty bouncy and fun to play with. We discovered that on the carpet, they have a lot more bounce then they do on the kitchen floor. ”

These are also “temporary” bouncing balls and will lose their elasticity within a few days as they dry. Keeping your bouncy ball in a sealed bag will increase its bouncy lifespan.

The original “Super Balls” got their amazing bounce ability from compressed rubber under thousands of pounds of pressure.

How does it work?
This activity demonstrates an interesting chemical reaction, primarily between the borax and the glue. The borax acts as a “cross-linker” to the polymer molecules in the glue – basically it creates chains of molecules that stay together when you pick them up. The cornstarch helps to bind the molecules together so that they hold their shape better.

Make it an experiment
You can turn this activity into a true experiment by adjusting the amount of borax, glue, and cornstarch to get the highest bounce. You can also experiment to discover the best way to get the bouncy ball to keep its bounce over time. Have fun!

Check out Amy’s blog by clicking HERE.

Comments

39 Responses to “Experiment While Making A Bouncy Ball”
  1. broskies says:

    WOW!!!!!! this realy works!?!

  2. hi880 says:

    cool!!!!

  3. Melia says:

    I love it!

  4. Mom5 says:

    My 10 year old is making this project for his science fair. We have repeated this experiment multiple times and are unable to get the balls to bounce. They dent on the side that hits the floor, and when left overnight are flat as a pancake by morning. What are we doing wrong?

  5. ScienceBob says:

    Be sure you are using white glue that is not the “washable” type. We used regular Elmers glue it our tests, and while other craft glues should work, I’m told the washable glues do not work as well. I hope that helps,

  6. sept1 says:

    I once did it at school. so i didn’t make it my self. If u left it there it would go flat like a pancake. It also has a lot of cracks in it.

    Then i did it myself. me and two friends did it. It was only yesterday. It was a science project too. Mine was the only one that worked. the two friends balls were too squishy. mine was hard and bouncy. it doesn’t bounc like one you buy from the store but it is a good balll to play with. Actually i noticed it bounced on carpet better than wood or tile or cement. Anything hard. Its better on something cushioning.

    My friends and the people at school probably put too much of some ingredients so it wouldn’t work correctly. The second time worked out for me better than my friends. Lets face it store balls r better!!!(:

  7. science rocks says:

    hey this does work i did it last night and it bounced for a wile but then when i went to go get it out of my room it was flat like crazy what am i doing wrong do you no ScienceBob?

  8. Mavericks says:

    Just so you guys know its the cornstarch that makes it bounce less…. my school did it as a chemistry lab and found that the balls without cornstarch in them worked much better… rest of the ingredients of fine.

  9. mikhenna miller says:

    hey it looks awesome im 10 years old and i think its great for any age and cornstarch will make the ball less bouncy!!!

  10. kimbo says:

    instead of corn starch can u use corn flour

  11. Emik says:

    This is awesome! :)

  12. krysten says:

    cool i tried it for a science project and everyone loved it.

  13. quennaria says:

    hey there i love this but you do not have wat it t is called!!

  14. Maria says:

    Wow this was so fun

  15. peacegirls123 says:

    I AM DOING THIS FOR MY EXPERIMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  16. prettygirlswale23 says:

    Im doing a project on this lab its hard to make a conclusion on this but when my science partners tried this it didn’t bounce at all. So, what should i say as my conclusion on the data???

  17. ScienceBob says:

    Your conclusion would be based on your hypothesis (what you thought would happen) If, for example) your hypothesis was that the ball would bounce, and it did not, your conclusion would be that the steps you followed did not make a ball that bounces. I hope that helps a bit.

  18. tia@here.com says:

    I LOVE THUS IDEA I AM MAKING EHT ?”:

  19. kaayzah says:

    im going to do this for my science fair ‘ hope it really works

  20. charchar1 says:

    We have a couple of questions:
    1. why does the ball bounce better on carpet than a hard surface?
    2. why does the ball shatter on a hard surface? Is it to do with the polymers, if so what/why?

  21. ScienceBob says:

    Thanks for the questions. The ball bounces higher on the carper because carpet are more “bouncy” that a hard floor, and they add their bounciness to the ball. If the ball breaks apart when you bounce it, you should use less cornstarch and it should stick together more – also make sure you mix it up really well. Have fun!

  22. 333lovley says:

    thats sooooooooo cool thnx siencebob

  23. Turtle3323/Sneakycheese202 says:

    IT WAS AWESOME!!!

  24. kellytee says:

    Hi

    you say it bounces better on a carpet as a carpet it more bouncy but why do normal bouncy balls bounce better on a hard floor?

  25. blueberry213342 says:

    what i u can’t get cornstarch????
    can u make it without it?????

  26. fgdgdfgdfgdfg says:

    your science experiment is cool!

  27. great-boy says:

    it is really cool and i also like your other science experiment they rock i hope you can come up with more cool experiment till then by by by……………..!!!

  28. MattUngerBrokeMyHeart says:

    I wanna make a bouncy ball but it probably wouldn’t work i actually made a solar power hotdog cooker the hotdog was good

  29. cutipink says:

    I was hoping it would’ve been like a store ball because when I found the recipe for the polymer ball there was the translucent polymer ball picture. Oh well, I had to make it 2 times to get it perfect…the glue I use is the Tacky glue but somehow it seems hard and dry so when I mold it, the ball cracks often, do you know why?

  30. sue/master says:

    at school today i was making the bouncy ball and when i bounced it it splatter all over me what did i do wrong can you help me?

  31. redneck mud princess says:

    im gonna use this for my science project. lets hope it works……it looks amd sounds fun to make!

  32. chocolate ;) says:

    i used this for my science experiment, its really cool and fun to play with. when i added more glue it bounced higher :D

  33. sarah.brianne says:

    im doing this for an experiment for school i hope it works!

  34. Star says:

    YOU SHOULD TRY USING CLEAR SYNTHETIC SCHOOL GLUE .IT REALLY WORKS BY DIRECTLY MIXING GLUE WITH SATURATED BORAX SOLUTION.AND MY BALL BOUNCED HIGHER THAN THE NORMAL PLASTIC BALLS!

  35. Random :l says:

    Used this for a Year 9 science experiment. Did not bounce but was able to get a solid set of results out of it anyway :)

Trackbacks

Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] were happy that Amy would share it with us. We’ve adapted it just a bit. The fun part […] Science Bob’s Science Experiment Blog If you like this content, please follow the above link to the original […]

  2. […] but everyone had great fun  bouncing them-they did bounce best on carpet. We found the recipe here, but it did need a bit of tweaking-perhaps because our measuring wasn’t accurate […]

  3. […] and if you’re wondering why the ball bounces, here is a nice explanation from Science Bob on his […]



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