Helium Lesson for Kids: Facts & Uses

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to fly away as you discover facts about helium, which is a gas that can lift things in the air. Read on to find out more about helium and how it's used in medicine and science.

What is Helium?

Did you ever wonder why some balloons float and others don't? If you blow up a balloon by breathing into it, you can bat the balloon into the air, but without your help, it will fall to the ground. Why doesn't that balloon float, while a balloon that's blown up for you at the store can drift into the air without any help? The secret to getting a balloon to float is helium.

Balloons float when they are filled with helium.
balloons

Helium is a gas that doesn't have any color, taste, or smell, so it could be floating in the air beside you, and you'd never know it. But don't worry, helium is not dangerous, and it's not likely to explode, which is why it's safe to use in balloons.

Helium is one of the chemical elements found on the periodic table, which is a table that scientists put together to organize elements. On the periodic table, it has the symbol He, which are the first two letters in the word helium.

On the periodic table, the symbol for helium is He.
helium

What is Helium Used For?

Lifting

A helium-filled balloon floats because helium is lighter than the air around it. That's why helium is a useful gas for lifting things into the air.

The next time you watch a professional football or baseball game on television, look closely to see if you can spot a blimp floating through the air. Blimps have helium inside to keep them afloat.

Blimps can fly because they are filled with helium.
blimp

You might notice that the helium-filled balloon you get from a store will float for a day or two, but after that, it falls to the floor. The balloon falls because the helium gas slowly leaks out of the stretchy material that makes up your balloon. Scientists can make balloons out of better material that prevents the helium from leaking out. These special balloons can be used by police to lift cameras into the air to look for bad guys. Similar strong balloons can be lifted high into the air to help weathermen do research way up in the sky.

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