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The Great Spinning Penny Science Trick

Use a balloon and a penny to create this simple science experiment

Simple science to do at home

What does a balloon and a penny have to do with gravitational pull? You are about to find out! Kids can hold the whole world in their hands as they recreate the effects of gravity and learn about inertia, centripetal force and how our solar system is held together. I've included a bonus experiment that uses all of the above and creates a cool sound.

All you need is a Latex balloon and a penny. That’s it! For the bonus experiment use a second balloon and a small hex nut. 

First, place the penny inside the opening of one balloon and place the hex nut inside the other balloon. Next, fill up the balloons with air and tie them off. Now the fun begins!

Hold the balloon with the penny inside in the palm of your hand and start to move it in a circular motion (like you are mixing it in circles). The penny will spin on its edge while in motion due to centripetal force (which is always directed toward the center of circular movement), but if you stop the penny will fall flat and slide to the bottom. The shape of the balloon forces the penny to move in a circular path where it typically would move in straight line. When you stop the movement, friction between the balloon and the penny with the combination of gravity causes the penny to slow down and stop.

For this experiment it is the wall of the balloon that creates the circular path for the object inside, but in our solar system it is the Sun’s gravity that keeps our Earth (the object) in circular orbit. 


Now, spin the other balloon with the hex nut inside. Listen to the sound it makes as you spin it around. Stop moving and listen to the sound wind down. The bumpy shape of the hex nut causes a vibration which produces a high-pitched noise. Put your little scientist to work by experimenting with other objects inside the balloon to see what different sounds they can produce.

This simple science experiment introduces young kids to big concepts in an easy, peasy way, and not to mention with some fun. Now your kiddos can feel like super smart scientists and impress all of their friends and teachers. 

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

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