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    Home / Science projects / Make a Colorful Bouncy Ball
    • Make a Colorful Bouncy Ball

      Make a Colorful Bouncy Ball

      Polymers are used to make numerous things, including clothing, plastic containers, nonstick cookware, and bulletproof vests. Try this experiment to see how polymers can make a toy. (Adult supervision recommended.)

      What You Need:

      • 1 tablespoon white glue
      • 1/2 teaspoon borax
      • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
      • 2 tablespoons warm water
      • 2 plastic cups
      • 2 wooden craft sticks
      • Food coloring

      What You Do:

      1. Pour the glue into one of the plastic cups. Add a few drops of food coloring to the glue and mix with one of the craft sticks until your desired color is achieved.
      2. In the second cup, combine the water and borax together and mix with the second craft stick. Stir until dissolved.
      3. Add the cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon of the borax solution to the glue and let stand for 15 seconds.
      4. Stir with a craft stick until fully mixed together and the mixture becomes very difficult to stir.
      5. Mold the ball in your hands. It will be sticky at first but will become more solid as you roll it in your hands.
      6. You now have a bouncy ball. Try bouncing it. How high does it go? Store your ball in an airtight container or Ziploc bag so it doesn't dry out and crumble.

      What Happened:

      The white glue contains polyvinyl acetate, a strong and flexible polymer that gives the ball strength. Cornstarch contains amylopectin, a polymer whose shape is best described as 'branched' - it sticks out like the branches of a tree - and gives the ball the property of elasticity. Elasticity allows the ball to return to its original shape after being compressed or stretched, such as hitting the floor. So instead of splattering everywhere, the ball bounces back up. The borax is needed to help the glue and the starch stick together. This connects the two polymers into a netlike formation, keeping the ball from crumbling or becoming slime when it is bounced.

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    Comments




    By: Hanna
    Date: May 01, 2017

    What is a subsitute for white glue?


    By: Cab91
    Date: Jan 08, 2016

    I could not get this to work. The description doesn’t say how long to stir the mixture. I kept stirring but at no point did the mixture become too difficult to stir. So I was left with a thick solution that would never shape into anything.

    I tried this twice, leaving the cornstarch and borax in the glue cup longer than 15 seconds the second time, however it didn’t change the outcome. Not sure why this didn’t work?


    By: Emma the slayer
    Date: Oct 22, 2015

    It’s a pretty cool thing to do. Helps with my science project in grade 9 science


    By: eric
    Date: Aug 22, 2015

    this is a cool science thing do for or with your kids trust me they would get happy


    By: nis
    Date: Jul 23, 2015

    hi…can i know is it we can replace borax we any other laundry powders or not
    i cannot find borax????????

    [HST Adds:  Some laundry powders do contain borax and may be able to be used with some success.  Experiment and see what happens!  We also carry small amounts of borax for purchase.]


    By: fran
    Date: May 18, 2015

    When do you add the rest of the borax solution?


    By: Edrio
    Date: Feb 14, 2015

    Is there any scientific explanation of why adding glue, borax, and water contributes to making a bouncy ball, in comparison to why other materials contribute to making a more or less bouncy ball? How do the qualitative and quantitative properties of glue, borax, and water contribute to how bouncy a ball made using glue, borax, and water will be? Is there any scientific explanation of why adding glue, borax, and water in certain amounts results in a ball that is bouncy to a certain extent?


    By: kaitlyn
    Date: Dec 14, 2014

    good haven’t tried it yet. didn’t have any glue so i had to make some.


    By: lele
    Date: Nov 06, 2014

    nice and cool stuff