Stand back and watch as I pull a needle through a balloon without popping it.

This trick is a magicians’ favorite. They can mystify an audience by putting a needle through a balloon and pulling through a ribbon without popping it. The demonstration is mysterious until you learn a little stress-related science.

When a balloon is inflated, the middle is under a lot of stress and pressure from the air inside. The top and bottom are not stretched as far or put under as much pressure. To illustrate this – color dots all over a deflated balloon. Then blow it up and look at the dots. The dots in the center of the balloon will be stretched and thin, while the dots on the ends won’t be stretched as far.

To use this demonstration as a student leadership lesson, use the balloon as an example of a real world problem. If you approach  a volatile situation at the most tense and stressed out part, the balloon or the situation may pop. But if you cautiously approach it from the strongest point, you may just get through.

For the complete experiment and science behind it, visit the Skewer Through the Balloon experiment page.

1 reply
  1. Maria
    Maria says:

    I have seen a similar experiment done with pencils and a water-filled ziploc bag. Just how the balloon does not lose air the bad does not lose water when the sharpened pencil is put through the bag. I never thought about relating the experiment to a person’s life when they are dealing with stress. This project would be great to use during a science lesson and an introduction to stress in the classroom.

    Reply

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