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Floating soap bubbles Featured science projectScience project video

Abstract

This experiment was performed to find out if soap bubbles will be able to stay afloat longer in different environments. The experiment was done to compare how long air bubbles float in air and carbon dioxide.

Hypothesis

Soap bubbles will stay  afloat longer in carbon dioxide than in air.

Scientific Terms

Surface tension, density, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium

Background

Floating soap bubbles

Soap bubbles have always been a source of entertainment for children. Even adults are fascinated by it. However, bubbles do not last very long and they either burst on their own or by upon collision with other bubbles. Soap bubbles are created by the surface tension of a fluid. Bubbles cannot be created by water alone - the mixture of soap in the water helps to stabilize the bubble.

The bubble is able to float in the air because it is very light. Except for the thin layer of fluid surrounding the sphere of the bubble, it contains only air. The slightest  breeze would be enough to carry the bubble up into the air until it collides and bursts or the water simply dries up.

If the bubble is placed in an environment where the air is denser then the air inside the bubble, for example in a tank filled with carbon dioxide, the bubble should remain afloat in the air for a longer period of time. However if the opposite takes place where the surrounding air is less dense, like helium or hydrogen, the bubble should not remain afloat for long.
 

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Complexity level:
4
Project cost ($):
30
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 1 hour for experiment
Material availability:
Easily found. May be purchased at a supermarket/department store.
Safety concerns:

Handle the glass tanks carefully.