This quick experiment only takes a few minutes to set-up, but will probably leave your kids giggling with excitement. Explore Bernoulli’s Principle and have a great time doing it!
We’ve included printable instructions and a demonstration video as well as a scientific explanation of “why it works.”
Note: The air from the hairdryer in this experiment can get hot, so as with every experiment, please use caution as needed.
- Hair Dryer
- Ping Pong Balls
Step 1 – Take a hairdryer and point it up towards the ceiling and turn it on high speed. Important Note: Always use caution when using the dryer because the blowing air can get hot. If possible, use the cold air setting on the hair dryer.
Step 2 – Place a ping pong ball in the blowing air of the hairdryer and watch it float.
Step 3 – See if you can get two ping pong balls to float at the same time. What about three? Do you think you could get a baseball to float? What about a balloon? There are so many different objects and observations you can make.
Do you know the why you were able to get the ping pong ball to float? Find out the answer in the how does this experiment work section below.
The floating ping pong ball experiment is a great example of Bernoulli’s Principle. Bernoulli was a Swiss scientist who, in the 1700s, discovered that the pressure of a moving fluid (air or water) is different from the pressure of a fluid (air or water) at rest. Bernoulli’s Principle states that the faster air moves, the less pressure the air exerts.
The ping pong ball will fly up from the hairdryer until it reaches a point that the force of gravity pushing down on the ball is equal to the force of the air pushing up on the ball. The air coming from the hairdryer is moving much faster than the air around it. Because the air is moving faster, it has less pressure than the air around it. The ping pong ball stays within the column of low-pressure air because of the high pressure surrounding it.
More Science Fun
Enhance the learning and the fun but attempting to make other objects float. Can you get multiple ping pong balls to float at the same time? Do you think you could get a baseball to float? What about a balloon? There are so many different objects and observations you can make.
I hope you enjoyed the experiment. Here are some printable instructions: