Play bubble tennis

Play bubble tennis

Bubble tennis is fun!

Play bubble tennis...

What you need:

  • Washing up bowl
  • 2 cups warm water
  • Half a cup of washing-up liquid
  • 5tsp glycerin (ask an adult to buy this from a chemist or online)
  • 2 coat hangers
  • Outer plastic tube from a biro - remove the ink

How to:

  1. Gently mix the water, washing-up liquid and glycerin inside the washing up bowl to make the bubble mixture.
  2. Stretch the coat hangers into a circular shape. These are your rackets.
  3. Dip the rackets in the bubble mix and remove slowly, so that the bubble mixture fills the circle.
  4. To make your tennis ball, dip one end of the pen tube into the bubble mix. Blow through the other end to make a bubble.
  5. Play bubble tennis!

Be gentle with the tennis ball and rackets, otherwise you'll end up with bubble mix everywhere! How many times can you hit the ball before it bursts? Does it matter how big the ball is? Does adding more or less glycerin make a difference?

Here's a video of some people playing with strong bubbles in their chemistry class.

What's happening?

Bubble mixture is a detergent. Detergents are made of molecules that have a head and a tail. The head of the molecule wants to be near water. The tail of the molecule wants to be as far away from water as possible.

When your bubble hits the bubble racket, they repel each other. The tails on the bubble want to stay away from the water in the bubble racket and vice versa. This means the bubble and racket don't stick to each other.

Bubbles burst when the layer of water and detergent get too thin. The pressure of the air inside the bubble causes the bubble to pop. Glycerin makes the bubbles last longer because it helps to stop the layer of water getting too thin.

Curriculum information

  • Summary

    4

    Curriculum key wordsOther web links
    • 5
    Science Curriculum Links
    National CurriculumCurriculum for excellenceNorthern Ireland Curriculum
    123
Sign up for the newsletter
Sign Up For The Newsletter
Want to get the latest science news from Planet Science straight to your inbox? Sign up now!