Magic Expanding Hand!

By , February 26, 2011 7:50 pm

Here is a fun science experiment that will totally entertain your kids AND teach them a bit of chemistry. Great rainy day educational fun!

  • INGREDIENTS:  All you need is vinegar, baking soda, and a latex glove. (Baking soda and vinegar happen to be my very favorite toys!

    You probably have the baking soda and vinegar in your pantry already, all you need to find is the glove (think hospital, doctor, dentist, lab…). We had a cool purple one. If you can’t find a glove, how about a balloon Magic Expanding Head?  This would be even more funny if you drew a face on the balloon first.

  • HOW:  Pour some baking soda into the glove,then carefully pour in some vinegar.

    You can be scientific and test which proportions work best, or just “wing it” like we did (about 1/3 cup baking soda, and 1/3 cup vinegar) . Squeeze the glove tightly closed with your fist, or if you work fast you might be able to tie the wrist up like a balloon. The glove will rapidly “grow” into a giant-sized hand (shake if necessary).

  • TIP:  Pouring in the vinegar is the tricky part since you might have to work fast to close off the opening of the glove before a geyser occurs in your kitchen. Although I know from experience that children are extremely impressed by the geyser-effect, you will be less so. Unless you are a Way-Cooler-Mom than I am, I recommend working quickly and conducting this experiment over a sink, or better yet … outside!
  • LESSON:  The quick answer is that the baking soda and the vinegar, when mixed, recombine to form Carbon Dioxide gas (CO2) and water (H2O).  It is the gas that fizzes, bubbles and expands the glove.  (A more complete explanation can be found here.  And an even more thorough and lengthy one here.)

You can also perform a version of this using a balloon stretched over a bottle or a jar.

4 Responses to “Magic Expanding Hand!”

  1. We do this sort of thing with plastic film canisters (the ones with lids that seal inside rather than outside of the canister work best). Load ’em up with bicarb, quickly add vinegar and reseal. They make great rockets and if you get it right go really high (we’ve got them stuck in trees before). Alternatively you can stick an alka seltza tablet to the lid, put vinegar in the tub, then quickly put lid on and shake.

  2. Mom Unplugged says:

    That sounds like a lot of fun! My kids would love that. Now I just need to track down some film canisters. Not so easy anymore in this digital age!

  3. You can sometimes get them on ebay.

    Alternatively try your local camera shop, especially if they offer printing and slide services. We used to have masses of them as both dh and I did alot of photography, but that was all bc (before children) and now I only have a few precious canisters left.

  4. Mom Unplugged says:

    Those are very good ideas. I would never have thought to check Ebay. And you are right, camera shops probably get them from time to time when people turn in their film in its canister. Thank you!

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