Humming Balloon

You can easily make a humming (or screaming!) balloon by inserting a small hexnut into a balloon and inflating. You can also try pennies, washers, and anything else you have that is small and semi-round. We have scads of these things at birthday time, hiding small change in some and nuts in the others so the kids pop them to get their treasures. Some kids will figure out a way to test which balloons are which without popping… which is what we’re going to do right now.


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Comments

23 Responses to “Humming Balloon”
  1. tsyed says:

    I tried my nut wasn’t sharp. I think it popped cause of friction. anyway I like it and I made it again.

  2. Aurora says:

    It’s more likely that the hexnut is a bit sharp and made a small tear in the balloon. Maybe file it down on the edges and try again?

  3. Robert Short says:

    I tried it again. My humming balloon got to a high frequency I think, and the balloon instantly popped again.

  4. Robert Short says:

    I spun a hexnut in my balloon that was bigger than the one you used in the video and it popped. Is that because I hit the natural frequency of my balloon?

    -Rob’s kids

  5. Aurora says:

    Wow – cool! Do you know why it popped? If you did it again, would it pop the balloon again? What if you try a penny?

  6. Rebecca Bell-Wort says:

    I did it with a marble and popped the balloon.

  7. Gabriele Pealer says:

    I used a huge hex nut, and it worked really well! Thank you so much!

  8. Aurora says:

    The nut zooms around inside the balloon due to something called centripetal force, which is the inward force on the nut that causes it to move in a circle. Since the nut has 6 sides, when the flat edge hits the side of the balloon, it makes the nut bounce a little and vibrate inside the balloon, making the humming sound. When you use a coin, it rubs against the balloon a little and stretches it a tiny bit which makes it again vibrate and make a sound. All sound is are molecules vibrating. The vibration starts with the balloon and nut.

  9. Lisa Main says:

    What can you write more about this in relationship to frequency and sound? They think it’s cool, but I can’t really think of anything pertinent to discuss with them beyond “It makes a sound. Perhaps the sound is loud because the vibration is somehow amplified by the size/shape/material of the balloon?”

  10. Aurora says:

    Oops – I meant washers. I didn’t get all of my washers to work either, but there are a couple that did. Since the guys at the hardware store know me well (I go in there with a lot of crazy ideas…), I just went in with a package of balloons and did the experiment right in the store and bought the ones that worked.

  11. Wendy Beard says:

    Nuts or washers? Because I was able to get the nut to work.

    Euell

  12. Aurora says:

    Some nuts are harder to get a sound out of than others. Try again with a more inflated balloon (blow it up more before tying it off) and see if that helps. Don’t blow it too tight, or it will pop with the weight of the washer! Sounds like you got a result to be proud of!

  13. Wendy Beard says:

    Hi I’m Wendy’s son (Euell),

    I could not get a coin or washer to work, but I could get a nut to work because of the bumps hitting the side of the balloon.
    I am wondering If I just couldn’t get it to the natural frequency or what, but I did make the same sound as yours did on the video (with the hex nut).

    What I did find pretty cool was using a square nut (rather than a hex) to make lower sounds while wiqqling the balloon at the same speed. The reason being, is because there are less bumps on the square nut, so it hits the balloon less times thus making a lower frequency and lower sound.

  14. Melissa Beck says:

    Can’t wait to try this for our Friday cooped homeschool science class! Thanks for all the tips, mamas!

  15. tracy nelms says:

    Thanks for the magnet tip we will amaze our friends ….

  16. tracy nelms says:

    Amazing !

  17. Deborah Rossel says:

    awesome!

  18. Aurora says:

    It might be too heavy… but try it and let me know how it works!

  19. MJ Wixsom says:

    will a dice work ? 🙂

  20. Sheila Jakobsen says:

    thats really cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Aimee McNally says:

    My children tried this today. We used smaller, thinner balloons. My girls put up to three hex nuts inside to see if it made a difference. It did sound louder. One of my girls got a magnet and things became exciting. As soon as she put the magnet near the hex nut, while the balloon was inflated, it popped! Even more exciting was to find the nut stuck to the magnet! Now we have a magic show.

  22. Aurora says:

    Look like our server had a hiccup. Go ahead and try again.

  23. Anita Mullins says:

    Hi,

    I have now tried Internet Explorer 8, Chrome, and Firefox. This video does not come up…some of the other videos on the page do.

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