Smelly Balloons

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Are balloons porous or non-porous? In this activity, learners watch an entertaining Mr. O video and conduct a simple experiment to find out. By placing spices and flavorings inside the balloon, learners can prove balloons are porous by using their sense of smell to detect the scents as they escape the balloon. This activity guide contains information about porous materials, nanosensors, and the sense of smell.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Computer with internet access
  • Latex balloons (about 11″ or so works well)
  • Small bottle of flavor extract or spice (available in the baking aisle of your local grocery store)
  • Eye droppers


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Smell
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse
  • smell
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Children's Museum of Houston,

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