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Gases Matter

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, Barbara Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.

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In this activity, students will observe how the production of carbon dioxide can cause a balloon to inflate. They will predict what is inside the balloon after two components (vinegar and baking soda) are mixed together in the soft drink bottle to which the balloon is attached. They will determine that a gas (carbon dioxide) is inside the balloon. 

Conduct this activity as a discovery lesson with the entire class. Ask students to observe as you place a few tablespoons of vinegar in the bottom of the soft drink bottle. Next, use a creased note card or sheet of paper to slide 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a balloon (use a different balloon from the previous demonstration). Securely fasten the balloon over the mouth of the bottle, being careful not to let any baking soda fall into the bottle. Once the balloon is secured in place, have the students observe carefully as you lift the balloon gently upward, dropping the baking soda into the vinegar at the bottom of the bottle.

The ensuing chemical reaction should produce bubbles or foam, along with a gas that inflates the balloon. Students will see the balloon expand as it fills with carbon dioxide produced by the chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda. If the balloon does not inflate, ensure that it is securely fastened to the top of the bottle and gently shake the bottle to mix the vinegar and baking soda.


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Numbers: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932


Houston Endowment Inc.

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education