CABIN FEVER: Power Balls – Not the Lottery, But a Craft Idea

Photo: Patricia Vollmer

I have two most-awesome sons!  They’re smart, fun, funny and adventurous boys.  Now that both are at school all day (my youngest is in Kindergarten this year), it’s been almost shocking how peaceful and quiet things are around the house.

My youngest especially enjoys crafts, and we spent a good part of the winter in Nebraska last school year doing assorted crafts.  You name it, we’ve tried it out!  Moon Sand, Play-Doh, Pixos, Magic Nuudles, Magic Sand, Perler Beads, the list goes on and on!  I’ve written several blog posts about some of the crafts we’ve attempted, and I tended to go overboard.

A couple weekends ago we found these things called “Power Balls” at our local Bed, Bath and Beyond.

A very interesting concept, indeed.  What you get are several packets of these polymer crystals of assorted colors.  Plus you get some molds that look like little baby colanders.  The directions are pretty simple: fill the molds with the colored polymers sort of like those decorative sand bottles.  Then you immerse the mold in water for a few minutes, then let the mold dry some.  Pop out the ball, allow it to dry some more, then you have a bouncy ball.

Now, I was curious about what these crystals were made of.  I did a little bit of sleuthing online and didn’t get very far at all.  The composition of the crystals is proprietary.  Here’s a college student’s review of the product, and a recipe for a homemade polymer bouncy ball made with Borax.

The peach-colored polymer crystals. Layer these in the mold to make pretty-bouncy balls. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
The round mold. Note the holes in the sides. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

But it isn’t that simple.  Our perforated molds didn’t seem to allow the water in evenly, after upwards of an hour in the mold, when we popped out most of the balls, we had one area that was still dry.  That dry area crumbled and we were left with a non-ball!

Note the empty spot in the upper right. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
Another misfire! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

After several tries, we got a legitimate round ball that bounced!  It even bounced 15 feet, as advertised!

Yay! A round ball! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

There was also this not-so-round mold that we tried out too.

The octagonal mold. The balls made here do bounce, but not well. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
An octagonal ball. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

The boys had a good time with the balls for all of about 10 minutes.  Then they went into a little bowl for the next couple weeks.  I recently checked out the balls and discovered that they had completely dried out, and lost their bounce.

To conclude, this is a fun activity to do, but be prepared for the balls to dry out especially if it’s done in dry climates or in the wintertime.  For future reference, be sure to seal these balls in a plastic bag to keep their bounce.

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Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 14. She serves part time as a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.