Sep 232019

I am once again enthused to demonstrate Borax Bouncy Ball Experiment to all of you which we tried at home with my two little angels.

It was a winter holiday and found snow all around. We could hardly find a way to move out. But that’s when the problem started. My tiny little tot Tisha always wanted to move around places. She felt really suffocated to stay at home.  I wanted to engage them, but doing the same things will not make them happy.

Borax Bouncy Ball Experiment

I thought of playing ball with them. What was different in playing ball is the thought in your mind now? Did I guess it right? Not with the usual ball, we play, but this time I wanted to make my own ball that bounces for the kids to have fun.

As usual, I started with some questions. I believe in kindling curiosity with questions. Especially kids of age 7 like my elder ones like challenges and they will feel excited to answer questions. However, for the little one as small as 5 might not know it is a challenge, but they will participate too in answering questions.

Without beating around the bush, let me come to the point now.

Borax Bouncy Ball Experiment

Suitable For

My personal opinion is, it will suit the age group from 3 to 12. Ask me why? At the age of 3 kids love to make a mess out of things like powder, glue, starch, etc. We don’t allow them to make the mess. But this experiment is safe enough to let them make the mess and play too. Coming to 6 or 7-year-old kids, they will be able to understand science and you can explain them about the basic science behind this experiment.

Finally, the older ones like 10 plus years will know chemical reactions and equations. Thus you can explain them with the detailed science behind this experiment. I will at the end give you some science behind this experiment to the best of my knowledge. You can pick it up from there.

What You Need

Borax Bouncy Ball - Things We Need

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Steps involved in making a bouncing ball – With ingredients

All you need is some borax powder (you can get it from the laundry sections of shops) I guess most of you will be having it. Then need some warm water, glue (preferably a clear glue) some corn starch. Yes, spoon for mixing. Optionally you can also use food coloring to prepare colorful balls.

Borax warm water solution for bouncy ball

  1. First, mix the borax powder in warm water and make it a solution so that there are no lumps formed. Here I took help from my younger one to measure and take the mixture in the bowl. Asked my elder one to whisk thoroughly.
  2. Next, again my younger one mixed some corn starch and glue to this borax solution.
  3. Elder one kept on stirring until it became thick.
  4. Then I allowed both of them to knead the dough like the mixture into small balls. This is the fun part where they will play like anything with the dough. It did not stick.
  5. You must have added color if you want to before step 3 when the mixture is watery. Once it becomes thick the mixing of color will not be uniform.

Borax bouncy ball add starch and glue

Kneading polymer making bouncy ball

Fun Science Fact behind the borax bouncy ball

Ok, while you can understand that mixing the borax powder with glue gives it a shape of a ball. But, have you thought about it as to why it bounces. Let me explain the basic science for your clarity.

Borax – Chemical name of borax is sodium borate or tetraborate. It is the component of boron and a mineral salt of boric acid. It is white in color, crystals dissolving in water. It is used as one of the major components of detergents and used in making buffer solutions. It has poor solubility in cold water and hence warm water is preferred to make borax soluble.

Glue – This has the adhesive property that sticks materials together. Polymers are basically lengthy strands of molecules that become thicker over time and become sticky.

Corn starch – Act as a binding agent and binds the molecule.

Thus, when glue mixed with borax, the polymers stick in a few places and hence making the solid rubbery and hence it bounces when mixed with borax. Corn starch gives it shape by binding them together. Due to cross-linked polymers (glue contains the polymer PVA – polyvinyl acetate) the ball bounces.

Borax Starch Glue Bouncy Ball Polymer

Perfect Bouncy Ball using Borax, Starch and Glue

Note:

Now you know how it happened so I suggest you to try taking different measurement of glue, borax powder, and corn starch to see how they make the bouncy ball work. Feel free to share your results and let us keep this forum open for learning.

If you have Borax powder handy at home, I would urge you to try some of our crystal making activities

  1. DIY Borax Crystal Flowers
  2. Crystal Candy Cane
  3. Crystal Snowflakes
  4. Interlocking Crystal Hearts
Word of Caution
  • Always stay with children and do not let them handle things alone to avoid any mishap.
  • Give then the instruction to not keep their hands in the eyes as glue is sticky. Strictly they should not lick them, I am sure you are aware that borax is not good for health as it is predominantly used as a cleaning product.
  • Let your kids wear safety goggles (like this one) if they have one. 

We request you to exercise caution and have a safe experiment time with fun. For more safety rules read here

Borax Bouncy Ball – FAQs

I would also want to address a few queries in advance to give you a detailed insight into this experiment. Let us get going.

What does Borax do in a bouncy ball?

Borax acts as a cross-linker and it hooks the molecules in the glue to form a bouncy ball with a rubbery texture.

How do you make a bouncy ball without borax?

You can simply make a bouncy ball without borax. Yes use only corn starch and follow these instructions. Mix corn starch with water and microwave for 20 seconds. Then add some more water and roll it to the shape of a ball. Microwave again for 15 seconds and you’re done.

What makes a bouncy ball bouncy?

Glue on the bouncy ball contains a long chain of molecules and they are called polymers. When glue is added to borax solution the polymers are linked together forming a net. Additionally corn starch binds the molecules and gives them shape. The ball bounces due to the polymers cross-linked together. Polymers have an elastic property that will stretch but not break.

How do you make a bouncy polymer?

The bouncy polymer is made with the help of the glue and borax solution. Take them in the right proportion and add starch to make it firm.

What’s inside a bouncy ball?

Glue, the polymer is mainly inside the bouncy ball. In large scale, manufacturing shops use rubber as the polymer to make a bouncy ball.

What makes a bouncing ball springy?

The elastic property makes the ball bounce and springy. Therefore rubber has the highest elasticity and hence it is springy compared to all other balls.

How do you make a super bouncy ball?

Follow the instructions given in the above section and make a super bouncy ball. Try different composition of the ingredients to let us know when your ball bounced the highest.

Does the temperature of a bouncy ball affect how high it bounces?

Yes, it is due to the fact that the gas molecules in the ball will expand with temperature. When this expansion happens, it will let the energy increase and result in bouncing effect. Lower the temperature, lower with the pressure and hence bounce decreases. On the contrary, high pressure will increase with the temperature that makes the ball bounce higher.

What affects the bounce of a ball?

The combination of the substances and the temperature affects the bounce of the ball. For instance, on a colder day the air molecule will contract and makes the ball less elastic. In summary, the property of the materials used to make the ball, temperature, pressure, surface texture, etc affects the bounce of the ball.

Finally, remember that this ball does not have life forever. Which means they become hard with time?

Yes, they do. You can keep them in a sealed zip lock in the refrigerator to keep it bouncing for some time. Yes, cool balls add additional kick to the kids while playing. Make fresh one as and when required and discard them for safety reasons.

Have fun!

The idea for this experiment was inspired by this post by Amy. 

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