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Make a bouncy polymer ball

You will need:

  • 2 x Plastic Cups 
  • 1 x Marker pen 
  • 1 x Tablespoon & 1 x Teaspoon 
  • 100g of Cornflour & 100g of Borax 
  • 100mL of PVA glue & 100mL of hot water 
  • Food colouring 
  • Adult help
  • NB: the strength of your PVA glue does make a difference in this experiment. Try testing different ones!

    polymer ball ingredients


  1. Label one of the cups “Borax Mixture” and the other “Ball Mixture” 

    borax and ball mixture cups
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of hot water and half a teaspoon of borax into the cup labelled borax mix. Add a couple of drops of food colouring and stir until all the borax has dissolved. 

    adding borax to cup
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of glue to the cup labelled “Ball mixture.” Add half a teaspoon of the “Borax Mixture” and a tablespoon of cornflour to the “Ball Mixture” cup. 
  4. Leave the ingredients to sit for about 15 seconds, and then stir thoroughly until they’re all mixed together. 

    mixing bouncy ball ingredients
  5. Once the mixture is too thick to be stirred, scoop it out and begin to roll it round in your hands. It will be sticky and a bit messy to begin with, but as you knead it it’ll become less so. 
  6. After a few minutes, drop your polymer ball onto the table. If it doesn’t bounce don’t worry, keep kneading!

    Bouncy polymer ball
Bouncy polymer ball
Finished bouncy polymer ball!
Australian Curriculum Links (ACARA)
Chemical Sciences

Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties; these properties can influence their use (ACSSU074).
CW4 - In a chemical change, new substances are formed, which may have specific properties related to their uses in everyday life. Chemical change involves substances reacting to form new substances (ACSSU225)

CW3 - Chemical reactions involve rearranging atoms to form new substances; during a chemical reaction mass is not created or destroyed (ACSSU178)

CW4 - Different types of chemical reactions are used to produce a range of products and can occur at different rates and involve energy transfer (ACSSU187).

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Why Does This Happen?

The PVA in PVA Glue stands for Poly-Vinyl Alcohol. It’s a special sort of chemical called a polymer. The “Poly” part of PVA means many, because PVA is made of lots and lots of units added together into big long chains. Usually they chains slip and slide past each other, and we get a flowing liquid.

Borax is a chemical that we usually use for cleaning, but it has another interesting property. When it’s mixed with Poly-Vinyl Alcohol, it grabs those long chains of polymer, and links them together (leaving water behind as a by-product). Now, the properties of the PVA change: instead of slip sliding past each other, the PVA-borax mixture stretches and clumps together into a kind of slime.

By adding cornflour to the PVA and Borax mixture you now have a material which becomes harder when you give it more pressure... a non-Newtonian solid combined with an elastic slime! This means that when you bounce the ball it can then transfer the forces back into the floor more easily and the ball bounces easily. You can also make cornflour slime which takes advantage of non-Newtonian solid properties.

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