Splatter Patterns, Water Balloons and a Hangout

Our rather disjointed Science Sparks Hangout today explored how to get a good splatter pattern from water balloons.  What we were hoping to show was that a water balloon dropped from a greater height will fall with more speed and have a bigger splatter pattern than a water balloon of the same size dropped from a lower height.

Water balloon

As you can see in the Hangout we hit a few issues,  the balloons broke a little too easily, one on the tap and one was dropped by some little hands, there were lots of great questions and lovely giggles though, so despite it not working very well, we still had fun.

Afterwards I found a few more water balloons and we  tried again. We found that the balloons didn’t always burst when dropped from a low height, so we placed a needle in the centre of the tuff spot and used plasticine to hold it in place.

Splatter patterns

 You can see that when dropped from higher up the water has spread out much further. This is because the balloon had further to travel before hitting the ground and therefore bust when travelling at a higher speed, which made the water spread out more.

Splatter patterns

To make things a bit clearer, I filled some more water balloons with paint and water mixed together. This was a very messy process, I’d recommend filling the balloons either outside or in a sink.

Splat from the lowest height.

Splatter patterns

From a bit higher up.

Splatter patterns

From even higher.

Splatter patterns

With each increase in height the spatter was bigger.

There are a few issues with this experiment, I couldn’t be sure that the balloons all held exactly the same amount of water/paint. I did weigh the water balloons, but there was a few grams difference and the paint ones were so hard to fill up anyway that it would’ve been impossible to get the same amount in each.

I would have liked to have measured the distance between the needle and the edges of each splat, but our container was a little small.

Can you do this with more accuracy? You could draw a graph to display your results.

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