Your kids will absolutely love this activity they can make themselves using just a penny and a balloon. The end result is super cool, somewhat resembling an atom smasher. (An atom smasher, or particle accelerator, by the way, is a device used to accelerate microscopic particles to high speeds in order to collide them with target atoms in order to learn about the forces that hold an atom together.)
Fortunately, your kids don’t need to know anything about atom smashers to enjoy this activity! They will simply be mesmerized by the behavior of the penny once it is inside the balloon. (Due to the use of small parts, this activity not recommended for kids under the age of 3.)
Note: For more fun ways to do science with your kids, see my science activities for kids page.
To make your own atom smasher, start with a latex balloon. (It should go without saying, but don’t do this activity if anyone is allergic to latex.) Higher quality balloons will likely hold up better than lower quality balloons.
Grab a penny.
Place the penny into the balloon. You may need to help your little ones with this.
Once the penny is inside the balloon, inflate the balloon and tie it off.
This is when the real fun begins. Have your children start shaking the balloon.
The penny will begin to spin around inside the ballon very, very quickly. It’s really quite cool to experience!
For more fun, you can try bumping the balloon back and forth with your child. The penny inside will change the balloon’s behavior compared to what your children will be used to when playing with a balloon.
Please note that our atom smashers didn’t last long, as the balloons tended to pop after a few minutes of use. This just added to the fun, however. You may, however, have better luck if you use high quality balloons.
Looking for more hands-on activities that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)? Then you’ll love STEAM Kids! This book features 52 hands-on activities are helpfully identified by category (science / technology / engineering / art / math) so you know exactly what skills your kids are developing.
More science activities for kids
More science activities from Gift of Curiosity:
- Dancing raisins
- Candy experiments
- Jumping colors science activity
- Make your own glycerin soap
- Crystallized snowflakes
- Dissecting an apple
- What do ants like to eat?
- Make your own telescope
- The great baking soda and vinegar experiment
- Magic inflating balloons
Don’t have time to gather materials? Want to make science super easy? Check out these monthly subscription services that will send science and creativity kits to your door!