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Pop Rocks and Soda Experiment

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this chemistry demonstration, we'll explore how Pop Rocks work and how the unique makeup of this candy can be combined with soda to blow up a balloon.

Introduction

Goal: Blow up a balloon with Pop Rocks and soda
Age: Elementary school and up
Time to complete: 30 minutes
Safety Concerns: None

Have you ever had the candy Pop Rocks? Like the name says, these small pieces of sweet candy pop when you put them on your tongue. Although eating them is quite the sensory experience, Pop Rocks can also be used to study gases in chemistry. To do this, we're going to combine Pop Rocks with soda to try to inflate a balloon using the gas produced when the two combine.

Special characteristics of the candy Pop Rocks can be used to blow up a balloon with soda
Pop Rocks

Materials

  • One bag of Pop Rocks (more if you'd like to snack on them while you experiment)
  • A funnel
  • A balloon
  • One 20-ounce bottle of soda

Steps

1. First, fill your balloon with one bag of Pop Rocks using the funnel. You don't want the Pop Rocks to come in contact with the soda until you're ready to blow up the balloon.

2. Next, open your soda and attach the balloon to the top.

3. Shake the Pop Rocks into the soda and watch your balloon inflate.

Troubleshooting

Make sure you use a fresh bottle of soda. If the soda has been opened before, the carbon dioxide will escape and your balloon won't inflate. If you're still not getting a big balloon, make sure all the Pop Rocks get out of the balloon and into the soda. You might need to shake your balloon a little.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think caused the balloon to inflate?
  2. Would other liquids also cause the balloon to inflate?
  3. What makes Pop Rocks different from other candy? Would other candy cause the balloon to inflate too?

How It Works

Pop Rocks are pressurized with carbon dioxide, creating tiny pockets of bubbles inside the candy. When the Pop Rocks come in contact with moisture, like in your mouth, the hard candy dissolves and the carbon dioxide is released, causing the popping feeling in your mouth.

Soda is also pressurized to dissolve carbon dioxide. When the soda is at a higher pressure, it can hold more carbon dioxide. When the soda is opened to the atmosphere, the pressure decreases and the carbon dioxide comes out of the solution as bubbles.

Soda is pressurized and releases carbon dioxide when opened
cola

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