Expanding Universe

Space enthusiasts will enjoy this quick, hands-on experiment.



What you need: 

  • A balloon 
  • small stickers (stars and planet stickers would be fun, but any stickers will do) 

What to do:

  1. Blow up the balloon half way full, and pinch the end closed (do not tie). Have your child stick the stickers around the balloon in various locations. Let stickers represent the actual planets of our solar system, or have fun making up a new system with planets of your own names and locations.
  2. Once all stickers are in place (make sure they are stuck down well), continue to blow the balloon up to its full size and pinch the end shut. 
  3. What happened to the planets? Did they move further apart? Explain that this is what happens when the universe expands. Galaxies, stars and planets move further and further apart as the universe grows. 
  4. Lastly, let go of the balloon and allow the air escape. Did it travel forward? This is what happens when a rocket is launched. Hot air is expelled from the back of the rocket, which launches it into space.
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