Helium Bubble Clouds!
Love to have fun while you learn? This is totally the project for you!! We got to play with helium AND bubbles while we made Helium Bubble Clouds! With just a few simple supplies and an awesome Balloon Time Helium Tank, you’ll be laughing and learning about density, gasses, bubbles, and more. It’s a fun helium science experiment for parties or any day you want to make special.
The Science Behind Helium Bubble Clouds
You’ve probably seen a helium balloon or two in your life. Maybe you’ve even used one of Balloon Time’s helium tanks for a party. Have you ever wondered what makes the balloon float? Here are some fun Q&A’s about the helium science and bubble science in this post.
What is helium?
Helium is an element (symbol He) that naturally exists in its gas form on Earth. It’s the second most common element on our planet after hydrogen.
What makes helium balloons float?
The balloons float because of something called buoyancy, which is exactly what helps you float in a pool. Something will float in a pool if it weighs less than the volume of water it displaces. The buoyant force upwards is greater than the gravitational force downwards. In the case of the helium balloon, it’s floating in a “pool” of air. The balloon with the helium inside, weighs less than the air it displaces (helium is less dense than air), so the balloon is pushed upwards with a buoyant force greater than gravity. If you have two balloons, one filled with air and one filled with helium, they both displace the same amount of air. But since the air-filled balloon is heavier than the air it displaces (gotta count the balloon’s weight), it sinks.
For this project, we’ve replaced balloons with bubbles to make some cool, foamy bubble clouds. So here’s a little bubble science, too.
What is a bubble made of?
Regular bubbles are made up of a thin film of soap filled with a pocket of air. The film is actually three different layers, a layer of water molecules trapped between two layers of soap molecules. The soap changes the surface tension of the water, making it harder for the film to break. Water molecules are attracted to other water molecules causing them to constantly pull on each other. You can imagine that the pulling wouldn’t allow a big bubble film to last very long. The soap steps in and separates them preventing the water molecules from pulling on each other so much. That reduced pulling, or reduced surface tension, allows the bubble to become big and last.
Why do these bubble clouds float so high?
Just like an air-filled balloon, regular bubbles will float for a bit, but pop after a bit of time when the water in the bubble film evaporates. And because just like an air-filled balloon is heavier than the air it displaces, an air-filled bubble is heavier than the air pool it is in. So eventually it will sink down to the ground. Not true with a helium bubble cloud!!!! We had so much fun watching these bubble clouds float hundreds of feet into the air. All because the helium inside the bubbles is less dense than the air around it.
- Balloon Time Helium Tank
- 1 empty water bottle
- Utility knife (adults only!)
- 1 sock (I used a kids size 3-5)
- 3 foot length of 3/4″ plastic tubing
- Duct tape
- Bubble solution
- Bowl to hold the bubble solution
How to Make the Helium Bubble Clouds Machine
Just a little safety note here… Adult supervision required when using balloons and helium tanks. Please read all warnings and precautions on the Balloon Time box before use.
- First cut the bottom half off of the water bottle with a utility knife (adults only!). Save the part with the screw cap opening and recycle the bottom half.
- Then take the sock, cut off the foot from the heel to the toe, and pull it across the cut opening of the water bottle.
- Grab the plastic tubing and insert one end into the screw cap end of the water bottle. Tape with duct tape.
- Slip the end of the plastic tubing onto the nozzle of the Balloon Time helium tank until it stops.
- Pour the bubble solution into a bowl or plastic container that is large enough to dip the sock end of the bottle into
- Dip the sock end of the bubble, turn tank valve, press the nozzle slowly, and let the bubbles fly!
How to Fly the Helium Bubble Clouds
After testing our contraption inside, we quickly realized we needed to take these bubble clouds outside!!! The Balloon Time Helium tank really made these bubbles take flight! It was SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Before we knew it, this bubble cloud was off… You wouldn’t believe how high they could fly! They went out of sight before they popped in the air. It was absolutely amazing.
Note: Adult supervision is required when using balloons. Please read all warnings and precautions on the Balloon Time carton.