How To Make Bouncy Balls with Polymers

Balls are fantastic and fun to play with.  You can just throw them, pass around, or roll.  But the excitement is definitely doubled when balls can bounce. You can dribble them, toss over, or spike.  So, have you even wondered why balls bounce?  The answer is simple.  Chemistry.  By altering their chemical characteristics and compositions, balls can absolutely – bounce.  Polymers are key in making balls bounce.  They are molecules composed of chemical units that repeat.

Here are the specific instructions on how you can make balls bounce using polymers:

  • Step 1.  Prepare your materials.  Borax should be the first thing in your list.  You can get it from a nearby store’s laundry section.  Next is cornstarch.  You can buy in a baking supply center.  Then, source your glue.  You can look for white glue like Elmer’s if you wish to make opaque balls.  On the other hand, you can go for clear glue like the one you use in school if you want to have translucent balls.  The rest includes measuring spoons, craft sticks, small plastic cups, marking pens, a watch (preferably with second hand), a metric ruler, a plastic bag (zip-lock), food coloring (if desired), and warm water.    
  • Step 2.  Set aside two small plastic cups.  Using your marking pen, label the first cup – “Borax Solution”.  And then, work on the second cup.  Label it, too – “Ball Mixture."
  • Step 3.  Prepare your “Borax Solution” by pouring warm water (about two tablespoons) and borax powder (about half a teaspoon) into the first cup.  Start mixing your mixture in order to evenly dissolve the borax powder.  You may opt to add food coloring.
  • Step 4.  Formulate your “Ball Mixture” by pouring glue into the second cup.  Afterwards, get your “Borax Solution”.  Add about half a teaspoon of it to your “Ball Mixture”.  Next is cornstarch (about a tablespoon).  But make sure that you don’t stir the mixture yet.
  • Step 5.  Give the ingredients between 10 and 15 seconds to interact.  Soon after, stir everything.  Mix thoroughly until it becomes really difficult for you to stir it.  When stirring is impossible, remove the mixture out of the second cup and then, begin molding it in your hands.  Start forming a ball.
  • Step 6.  Keep forming the ball.  It is really messy and sticky at the beginning.  However, as you continue to knead it, it is going to become more solid and a lot easier to handle.
  • Step 7. Once you feel that the ball is less sticky, you can try to throw it and find out if it bounces.
  • Step 8.  You can place your bouncy ball in a plastic bag if you are not using it.

Simply repeat Steps 2 to 7 if you wish to make more bouncy balls.  You can use food coloring to make each ball distinct.  As a precaution, bear in mind that your materials can be toxic when ingested.  So, see to it that you thoroughly wash your hands and utensils after completing the activity.  You should also clean your work area just to be safe.


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