Living thing are made mostly of water. Humans are, on average, are 60-70% water and the water in our bodies helps to stabilize our temperature. A great way to illustrate this concept requires no more than a balloon, some water and a grill lighter. (If young kids are doing the experiment, adult supervision is absolutely required.)
Simply fill the balloon with water, tie it and hold a flame to the bottom of the balloon. We did the experiment outside, just to be safe!
What do you think will happen?
Specific heat is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a substance by one degree Celsius. The specific heat of water is higher than any other common substance, which allows water to absorb and release large quantities of heat with very little change in temperature. Because of this, the water in the balloon absorbs the heat from the flame, and the rubber doesn’t melt. Imagine that the balloon is a living cell, and you can see how the fluid in a cell helps keep it safe when the temperature changes!
The balloon will turn black where you flame it, but it won’t pop. When you’re done with the experiment, fill a few more balloons and have a water balloon fight!
Enrichment: What happens if you try the same experiment with a frozen water balloon?