Extreme Science: Floating Ping Pong Ball - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Extreme Science: Floating Ping Pong Ball

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

What you will need:

  • Ping pong balls
  • “bendable” straw
  • Hair dryer
  • Adult supervision

Optional:

  • Leaf blower
  • Playground ball

Procedure:

Tilt your head back and hold a ping pong ball just above your mouth. Take a deep breath and carefully release the ball as you blow a steady stream of air on the bottom of the ball. How long can you keep the ball afloat? If you are like most people, the ball will only stay afloat for a few seconds at best.

Now try it again using a straw. Bend the straw into an “L” shape. This time, we will keep our head in a normal position and place the long portion of the straw in your mouth so that it is horizontal. The shorter portion of the straw should be pointing straight up. Now, take a deep breath and carefully release the ball directly above the straw opening as you begin to blow through the straw. This smaller stream of air is more efficient and will allow us to float the ball easier and a little longer. When the air hits the bottom of the ball, it is pushing the ball up into the air. The ball then stays in the stream of air due to the faster moving air rushing around the outer edge of the ball. Since moving air has less pressure, there is an area of lower pressure all around the ball.

Let's try it again using the hair dryer. The hair dryer can move a lot more air than we can with our limited capacity of our lungs making this much easier to float the ball in mid-air. Since we now have a lot more air moving at a faster rate, we can actually tip the hair dryer slightly from side to side and you will notice that the ball still remains in the stream of air. Again, this is due to the lower air pressure directly against the sides of the ball keeping it in the stream of air.

Try this:

Try using a leaf blower and a playground ball outside. See how far you can actually tip it from side to side and still have the ball remain in the stream of air. How large of a ball can you float using the leaf blower? What would happen if you tried to float the ping pong ball using the leaf blower?

Radical Rick
Extreme Science
www.ExtremeScienceFun.com
509-892-7621

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