Exploding Bag Baking Soda and Vinegar Science Experiment for Kids
This is an exciting baking soda and vinegar science experiment for kids. Children enjoy making these chemical reactions and using them to pop bags, which will create an extra layer of excitement for them.
This post is part of a series of experiments that will help children explore chemical reactions and participate in inquiry based learning. See the links below for additional experiments that build upon this one.
When baking soda and vinegar (or citric acid/ lemon juice) are combined, gas is created as part of the reaction. When the ingredients are combined in a zip lock bag, it can cause the bag to fill up with gas and explode. In this experiment children see how the gas (carbon dioxide) is created, followed by the dramatic reaction that takes place in the enclosed space of the bag.
Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and vinegar reaction – A simple version of what happens
When you add vinegar to baking soda a chemical reaction occurs. This means they break apart and reconfigure to form new and different chemicals. When vinegar and baking soda are combined they create gas, water and sodium acetate (which is a salt that looks similar to baking soda). The release of gas is why they bubble when they are mixed together. Vinegar is acidic and baking soda is a mild base (alkaline), so they neutralize one another to create a salt and water. All the chemicals are safe to touch (though they will sting if you get them in your eyes).
What you need
- Vinegar or lemon juice
- Baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
- Plastic zip lock bag
- Food coloring or soap (optional)
- Paper or paper towel
To make this activity easier, you can wrap the baking soda in paper or a paper towel, place it in the plastic bag with the vinegar already in it, close/zip the bag and then shake it up so they mix together. You probably want to start with about ½ cup vinegar for a medium zip lock bag. We also tried doing this experiment with frozen vinegar to see what would happen.
Children can experiment and see how much baking soda (the minimum amount) is needed to pop the bag. To do this in the least wasteful way, they can start with small amounts of baking soda. When the bag doesn’t pop, it can be rinsed out and used again. Add a bit more baking soda each time you re-do this experiment to see what the minimum measurement is needed to make the bag pop.
Questions to ask
- What happened? Why do you think it happened?
- What did you learn?
- Could make the bag explode using less baking soda?
- What’s the minimum amount of baking soda needed to make the bag pop?
- Could you figure out the minimum amount of vinegar needed to make the bag pop? How?
- What happens if we freeze the vinegar or baking soda?
- Is there anything else you would like to try?
What they get from it – Baking soda and vinegar science experiment for kids
This experiment gives children the opportunity to carry out and experiment which will help them develop practical skills and scientific thinking. There are also opportunities for children to develop scientific skills such as prediction, observation, recording (including data recording) and sharing/presenting their ideas. Children may also draw or write to record what they observe which can be good motivation for children who are reluctant to write.
This type of inquiry based learning helps develop children’s curiosity, love for learning and new knowledge and skills that will support and enhance more traditional teaching approaches (Ambrose et al. 2010; Froyd 2008; Prince & Felder, 2007; Springer, Stanne & Donovan, 1999). Further, research shows that people learn best (for long-term memory at least) when they learn through hands-on, practical experiences (Hearns, Miller & Nelson, 2009; Hillman, 2011; Ferri, B.H., Ferri, A.A., Majerich, D.M., Madden, A.G., 2016).
Take it further
Challenge children to use the smallest amount of vinegar and baking soda to pop a bag. Children could also try doing this experiment with larger or smaller bags or using frozen vinegar or baking soda.
You may want to see my other experiments using bicarbonate of soda / baking soda and vinegar with children. This includes Baking Soda and Vinegar Painting Experiment for Kids (coming soon), Colorful Baking Soda and Vinegar Experiment for Kids, Color pH Baking Soda and Vinegar Science Experiment, Frozen Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar Experiment and Valentines STEM Art Projects for Toddlers and Kids.
Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6nGaDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&ots=Kg0QTZYsS2&sig=-MfNhVTJDIr4BjQvPyIs1_j2N0o#v=onepage&q&f=false
Ferri, B.H., Ferri, A.A., Majerich, D.M., Madden, A.G. (2016). Effects of In-Class Hands-On Laboratories in a Large Enrollment, Multiple Section Blended Linear Circuits Course. Advances in Engineering Education, 5 (3). https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1121997.pdf
Froyd, J. E. (2008). White paper on promising practices in undergraduate STEM education. Commissioned paper, Board on Science Education, National Academies. Retrieved from https://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BOSE/DBASSE_080106#.UUoV5hngJ8g
Hearns, M.K., Miller, B.K. and Nelson, D.L. (2009). Hands-On Learning versus Learning by Demonstration at Three Recall Points in University Students. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 30 (4), 169-171. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.3928/15394492-20090825-01
Hillman, C.N. (2011). The effects of hands-on learning versus learning by demonstration on memory in community dwelling older adults (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Toledo). Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6231/d55fc1c730ec086f012677c54141f466e18e.pdf
Prince, M., & Felder, R. (2007). The many facets of inductive teaching and learning. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(5), 14–20. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/31566398/inductive_approach.pdf?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3Dinductive_approach.pdf&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A%2F20200221%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20200221T074538Z&X-Amz-Expires=3600&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=17a21f78b065bbe014fb696fbe440ea49e310fe9cdde81c9ebc1ac75d5c80ec2
Springer, L., Stanne, M. E., & Donovan, S. (1999). Measuring the success of small-group learning in college-level SMET teaching: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 69, 21–51. http://archive.wceruw.org/cl1/CL/resource/scismet.pdf