Balloon Car Video & Lesson Plan
- 3 regular-sized drinking straws
- Styrofoam or foam tray or piece of cardboard
- 1 piece of cardstock or cardboard
- 1 wheel template (disposable cup bottom)
- 1 piece of string or yarn
- Masking tape
- Stickers (optional)
- 2 bamboo skewers or balsa wood sticks
- 6 pennies or washers
- Tape measure (1 needed)
- Use the wheel template (cup bottom) to trace and cut out four wheels from the cardstock.
- Using the tip of a pencil or bamboo skewer, make a small hole in the center of each wheel and secure with a small piece of tape.
- Using scissors, cut two straws such that they are slightly longer than the width of the Styrofoam tray or cardboard chassis.
- Turn the Styrofoam tray or cardboard chassis upside down, and tape the straws on each end of the chassis. These will serve as shafts for the wheel axels.
- Cut the skewers such that there is ½" (~1 cm) extending beyond each straw end when inserted.
- Slide one skewer through each straw. These will serve as the wheel axels.
- Put one wheel onto each end of the skewers. Make sure your racecar rolls freely when pushed.
- Test your car and demonstrate Newton’s 1st and 3rd laws of Motion:
- Carefully cut the elastic rim off the end of your balloon.
- Insert the jumbo straw about 1 inch inside the balloon and tape to the straw to secure it in place. Make sure there are no gaps that will allow air to leak. Note: regular straws will also work, but require more caution in taping closed the gaps.
- Tape the straw to the top-middle of the racecar body. The straw opening should stick out a bit from the end of the tray.
- Blow into the straw to inflate the balloon and pinch the straw to keep it from deflating.
- Place the racecar on a smooth surface and let go of the straw. What happened?
- Investigate Newtons 2nd Law of Motion:
- Mark a starting line for the placement of your racecar (to be setup by the facilitator).
- Blow into the straw to inflate the balloon and pinch to keep it from deflating. Note: Because the balloon provides the force, it is important that it is inflated to the same size for each trial. Using a piece of string, measure the circumference of the balloon at its widest part. Mark the string with a pen or pencil and use to set the balloon size for all trials.
- Place the racecar at the starting line and let go of the straw.
- Measure the distance the car traveled and record in the data chart.
- Place two pennies on the racecar body on top of the Styrofoam tray and repeat steps B-D.
- Repeat step E with two additional pennies until you have added a total of six pennies to the tray and recorded data for a total of four trials.