Learn how to make DIY Bouncy Balls with simple ingredients from your kitchen! In this easy science project for kids, you’ll use chemistry to make a DIY toy.
When I first started trying science projects with my kids I fell into the “It has to be really complicated to be amazing” trap. You know, the one where we think that we need to invest in some fancy materials to be able to create an appealing science project for our kids.
This post has been sponsored by Dover Publications. All opinions are my own.
Here’s a little secret: The best science experiments for kids can be done with common household ingredients. You don’t need special kits or hard to find materials, though sometimes those are fun to add in to your repertoire, you really just need to raid your pantry. Case in point, today’s simple science experiment featuring polymers: DIY Bouncy Balls.
DIY Bouncy Balls is a project from the book Science Around the House: Simple Projects Using Household Recyclables by Roz Fulcher and published by Dover Publications. Dover has kindly sponsored this post but all opinions are my own. And they are all fab! I have actually been a big fan of Dover for a long time and my guess is you have too, only you may not even realize it.
Dover has so many titles in print it’s hard to even skim the surface, but what I love most are their science and craft books for kids along with all their reprints of classic math, science and puzzle books. I have waxed poetic about Martin Gardner books in the past, they are all available through Dover. Science Around the House has 57 easy projects and judging by how many post-its I have on it marking projects we want to try, I am positive you’ll find some awesomeness in here!
Okay, so let’s learn how to make a homemade bouncy ball! This is a classic chemistry project that explores polymer science and you only need a few materials from your pantry/craft stash to make them. If you don’t have Borax it can be found in the laundry section of most supermarkets.
SAFTEY NOTE: Please read this post regarding Borax safety. If you have children with skin sensitivities you should have them wear gloves when making the bouncy balls.
This post contains affiliate links to products.
How to Make DIY Bouncy Balls
- White Glue
- Warm Water
- Food Coloring
- Measuring spoons
- Paper Towels
Time needed: 15 minutes.
- Make Mixture #1: Borax + Water
In a cup, mix 1/2 teaspoon of Borax with 1 Tablespoon of warm water. Stir to completely dissolve the Borax. You will probably still have some Borax at the bottom.
- Make Mixture #2: Glue + Cornstarch + Food Coloring
In a separate cup mix 1 Tablespoon of white glue with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Add in a few drops of food coloring and stir to combine.
- Combine Mixtures
Add 1/2 teaspoon of the dissolved Borax mixture to your glue/cornstarch mixture and stir.
- Form the Bouncy Ball
Once the mixture starts to harden, remove it from the cup and quickly knead it with your hands. As it becomes more pliable, roll it between your palms to form a ball. Be sure to add some pressure as you roll it to smooth out the surface.
Once shaped it’s ready to bounce! Be sure to wash your hands after playing with these.
- Add a tiny drop of the Borax mixture to the ball once it’s shaped to smooth out the outer surface. This also helps if your ball becomes sticky as you roll it between your hands.
- Rub a little cornstarch on the outside of the bouncy balls for the smoothest bouncy ball surface ever!
- Keep a paper towel handy to dry your hands off while shaping the ball.
- Store these in an air-tight baggie or they will quickly dry out.
- These are best used and played with within a day or two. They will flatten out a bit as they sit.
- Try making a few in different colors! Just be sure to wait on adding the borax water until you are ready to knead them.
- Try using clear glue or glitter glue. I have not tried this but it would be a fun experiment.
- Double it! The recipe is above is halved from the original recipe in Science Around the House. Try doubling the recipe for a super sized bouncy ball!
- Make them glow. Try glow in the dark glue for an extra cool homemade bouncy ball!
In this project we are using a chemical reaction to make a very strong polymer. In a chemical reaction, two substances undergo a chemical change to form a new substance. The chemical reaction in this project occurs between the dissolved borax (sodium tetraborate) and the PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue (AKA white school glue).
And what is a polymer? A polymer is a substance made up of long chains of molecules. Polymers are typically flexible materials like plastic or gum. There are two polymers in this project: white school glue and wet cornstarch. The chemical reaction that occurs when the borax mixture meets the polymer mixture causes the molecules in the polymers to crosslink and become even stronger and more elastic in nature.
So this simple science experiment required no fancy equipment or materials but resulted in one awesome project, right? My kids really enjoyed playing with the bouncy balls. In fact my 4 year old kept trying to sneak a few to play with while I was shooting these pics…
I hope you guys check out Science Around the House: Simple Projects Using Household Recyclables and some of the other Dover Publications science and craft publications for kids!