VSEPR Balloons

Inflated balloons connected at their bases will push against each other to naturally mimic the configurations of electron groups around a central atom.  This demo allows students to both see the shapes and to apprehend that these shapes are the natural consequence of objects that repel each other but are bound together at a central point.

2 - linear

3 - trigonal planar

4 - tetrahedral

5 - trigonal bipyramidal

6 - octahedral

Curriculum Notes 

This demo can be used at the beginning of a unit on VSEPR theory.

Lead Time 
One day of lead time is required for this project.

Inflate the balloons and tie together tightly at their bases.


20 balloons of various colors, i.e., two of one color, three of another, etc.



Balloon sets are displayed to students.

Safety Precautions 

Wear goggles while inflating the balloons.

© Copyright 2012 Email: Randy Sullivan, University of Oregon Chemistry Department and UO Libraries Interactive Media Group