Bounce into the week with your own Bouncy Ball!
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
National Geographic Kids tweeted this recipe earlier this week named 'Make a super ball!'. So I thought I would try it out and share my own little things about this recipe.
This activity is best for 3+.
What you will need:
Borax (This can be found with the laundry detergents in the supermarket).
Please Note: You will be only using a very small amount, however, if you have sensitive skin you may wish to use rubber gloves when mixing the Borax with water.
Always read the packaging "Cautions" and follow instructions.
Corn Starch - I did make one bouncy ball without cornstarch, and it bounced just as well (see below). However, I do recommend to use corn starch as it forms the mixture into more of a putty which is a great hit for children too. Whereas the one without cornstarch if squished and squashed will break).
Elmer's Liquid Glue (PVA). I used clear, but any type of Elmer's liquid glue will work. I did read elsewhere that the more glue you use, the bigger the ball. I did not have success with doubling the amount of glue.
Food Coloring (Optional)
1 Bowl for the Borax mixture, and 1 bowl per different color bouncy ball you wish to make
This mixture will make 7-8 balls, so you will have plenty of mixture to make balls in all your little ones favorite colors.
*As with all craft projects, please ensure you wash your hands afterwards!
Mix 1/2 tsp of Borax with 2Tbsp Hot water. National Geographic uses warm water, which absolutely can be used but it will take longer to dissolve.
National Geographic also suggests if you are going to use food coloring, to add it to your borax solution bowl now.
I recommend leaving your borax solution bowl clear of color, and adding color in the next step if you want to make lots of different colored balls.
Using a different bowl, place1/2 tsp of your Borax solution, and now your food coloring if using and mix.
Add 1 Tbsp. of Glue and 1 Tbsp. of Cornstarch.
Leave for 10-15 seconds.
Then stir with a spoon until it becomes too stiff to stir any more.
Take the mixture out and using your hands begin to roll and kneed it. It will be very sticky and messy, however this will not last long, you will soon be left with your very own bouncy ball!
How this works:
Bouncy balls are often made from rubber or other polymers as these have elastic properties, which is critical as this allows them to be able to maintain their shape instead of absorbing the impact when hitting a surface and disforming. Polymers are long-chain molecules. PVA glue is made out of Polymer Polyvinyl Acetate, so when PVA is mixed with Borax it reacts and causes the polymers to cross link with itself.
When you drop your ball, gravity pulls it to the ground. The force of the ball hitting the surface puts an equal force back onto the ball, causing it to bounce up.
This is the direct link to the activity on the National Geographic Kids website if anyone would like:
For those interested to see how it looks and bounces without corn starch:
For all my UK friends wondering about alternatives to Borax, Amazon.co.uk sell "Borax Substitue", and I believe from reading about it that it should do exactly the same trick, hope that helps!