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This activity is designed to help students understand the concept of converting potential energy into kinetic energy.
16-20oz bottle (Soda or water bottle)

9" balloon

Seltzer tablets


Student Journal for Activity 4

Activity 4- Balloon Blow Up!


1.  Pour about 4 oz of water into the bottle

2.  Stretch the balloon, blow it up, and then release all the air.  This is necessary to get the rubber pre-stretched so that it easier to blow up.

3.  Put 2 seltzer tablets into the bottle and quickly stretch the mouth of the balloon over the mouth of bottle and hold firmly to prevent any gas from escaping around the neck of the bottle

In this activity, we will see what happens when the Seltzer components (citric acid and sodium bicarbonate) are mixed in solution.  The crystallized citric acid and sodium bicarbonate  by themselves have potential energy which is "locked up" in their chemical bonds.  When mixed in water, the stored energy in their chemical bonds is released to form bonds in new chemicals (CO2, water, and a salt) that also have potential energy.  But CO2 is a gas that can expand, releasing its potential energy in the form of kinetic energy. In this exercise, the C02 is trapped in a balloon and you can see the kinetic energy in action as it expands the balloon. 

Our bodies also use chemical reactions to convert the potential energy that is in our food into kinetic energy allowing us to move, digest, breathe, etc.