Making a Polymer Bouncing Ball

I saw “recipes” all over Pinterest last summer for making your own bouncing ball.  Since I have a daughter who is OBSESSED with them, I thought it would be a fun activity, and even went so far as to buy the ingredients – which then sat on my counter until now.  I never really got around to reading the instructions and assumed that it would be complicated.  Finally, I got tired of the stuff being in my way and made a few of them this afternoon.

I used the recipe on this site:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/demonstrationsexperiments/ss/bounceball.htm

Here is what we thought:

  • It was certainly NOT complicated.  It was super easy and only took a few minutes to make.  It probably took longer to read through the recipe than it did to make it.
  • It also isn’t super messy.  If you are doing it with very small children, you may want to put down newspaper or an old towel, but really, I did it right on my counter top using old butter tubs and plastic spoons.  Once I threw those away, there was no other mess.
  • I used white glue, but if I were to make this again, I would definitely use glitter glue or clear glue; I think it would look much cooler
  • Our balls didn’t really bounce.  They are super soft – basically like slightly more solid Gak.  We all thought it was fun to play with it – like you would play dough or silly putty – but they definitely didn’t come out like a bouncing ball.

  • The website explains the science behind how it works, but it is more on a level for middle school students, not little ones.  My high schoolers understood it, but I didn’t!! so if you’re looking for a science lesson and – like me – haven’t taken chemistry since the 80’s, you may need to google for a simpler explanation.  We did change up the ingredients on the second ball as per their suggestion (we added more cornstarch) but thought it was only barely different from the first one.

Final analysis?  I think you should give it a try!  It is easy and fast, and takes ingredients that you likely already have sitting around the house.  It is fun to play with (it would make a great stress ball).  If I had had more time, I think I would have gone ahead and made gak as well, so we could have talked about the differences (here’s a good gak recipe if you don’t know what I’m talking about: http://lilluna.com/homemade-gak-recipe/).

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