Home Lesson Plans Activities Field Trips Standards 01 How Humans Think While Understanding the Natural World - Science as Inquiry02 What we Know Today About the World Around Us - Historical Perspectives01 Doing Scientific Inquiry02 Living the Values of Inquiry03 Using Unifying Concepts and Themes04 Doing Safety05 Relating the Nature of Technology to Science01 Understanding Inquiry & Character of Knowledge02 Interdependence of Science Technology & Society03 MALAMA I KA AINA: Sustainability04 Unity & Diversity05 Interdependence of Organisms06 Cycle of Matter and Energy Flow07 Biological Evolution08 Heredity09 Cells, Tissues, and Organs10 Human Development11 Wellness12 Learning and Human Behavior13 Nature of Matter14 Energy, Its Transformation and Matter15 Forces, Motion, Sound and Light16 Universe17 Forces of the universe18 Earth in the Solar System19 Forces that Shape the Earth
Standard Number:0
Hawaii State Standards Toolkit
National Standards: Science as Inquiry K-4
National Standards: Science as Inquiry 5-8

Field Trips
Goodnight Moon Example

Organisims Two by Two K
Balls and Ramps 1
Liquids 2
Sound Investigation 3
Ecosystems 4
Microworlds 5

This activity adapted from experiment in "Balloons, Full of Holes!" The balloon on the left is filled with air. The balloon on the right is filled with helium. Helium escapes through the tiny holes in the balloon membrane in the form of bubbles.

Balloons, Full of Holes!

Balloon Membranes

The study of membranes is important for understanding a wide range of physical, chemical and biological systems. The word membrane to mean a sheet-like object, an object with area but very little or no thickness. Good examples are sheets of paper or a piece of plastic food wrap. Just like surfaces, membranes can be flat or curved; rough or smooth. Soap bubbles and all cell surfaces like skin are other common membranes.

Language with Science

membrane   surface  molecule  gas   pressure

Things you will need

small balloons




water tank

access to room temperature and hot water

access to a refrigerator

What to do
  1. Ask students to predict how long a balloon with air in it will stay inflated. How about a balloon filled with helium? Some students may have prior experience with helium balloons losing volume. Ask them why they think that this happens.
  2. Fill several balloons with air and several balloons with helium (small canister from hobby shop or filled at a party shop)
  3. Observe the balloons at the start, one hour, four hours, overnight.
  4. Ask the students for any new ideas to explain their observations. Explain that helium and air are both made from molecules. These molecules have different properties. Helium molecules are lighter than air molecules. Air molecules are larger than helium molecules. Could Helium molecules be escaping? If so, how?
  5. Tie strings and tie weights to one air and one helium balloon.
  6. Put the two weighted balloons in the water tank so that they are completely submerged.
  7. Observe the balloons at the start, 20 min, 40 min, 60 min, 90 min, 120min, overnight.
Want to do more?

Try testing the effect of temperature. Put the balloons in the refrigerator. Use hot water instead of cold water in the tank. Older students might enjoy these links:

Balloons, Full of Holes! (grades 2-5)
Membranes (grades 4+)