University of Virginia
Physics Department

Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion

A Physical Science Activity

Student Activity




  1. Use the graduated cylinder to carefully measure 2 mL dish detergent, 5 mL glycerin, and 6 mL water into the tray. Use the wood splint to stir the liquid until it is of a uniform consistency.
  2. Make two bubble wands from the wire pieces. Take each piece of wire and form a 3-4 cm circle at the center of the length, twist the two ends together to form the handle (see diagram).
  3. Hold one wire frame in each hand. Dip the two circular wire frames in the solution.
  4. Gently blow through each wire frame to create a bubble with a diameter a little larger than the frame, and catch the bubble on the frame.
  5. Bring the frames and the bubbles together. Let the bubbles press against each other until they form one large bubble. This illustrates the fusion process.
  6. Stretch the bubble by pulling the two frames farther apart until the bubble separates into two bubbles, one in each frame. This demonstrates the fission process. When this is done a little faster a small bubble may be released, illustrating the released neutron.