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Balloon-Powered Car

In this activity , students will make a car powered by the elastic energy of a balloon.

This car converts potential energy into kinetic energy, unlike your family car which converts chemical energy into kinetic energy

Balloons are elastic and store potential energy when they are filled with air. When the air is released, the potential energy is converted into the energy of motion, which is also known as kinetic energy. This is the energy you see when the car is propelled forward.

The more potential energy is stored, the more kinetic energy the car will have when you let it go!

Objectives

  • Observe and describe the conversion of energy from potential to kinetic energy.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    masking tape
    hammer
    nail

  • Per Student:
    1 tongue depressor
    2 short pieces of straws cut the width of the tongue depressor
    1 straw
    2 bamboo skewers
    4 plastic pop bottle lids
    1 balloon

Key Questions

  • What happens when you blow the balloon bigger?
  • How can you make the car travel further or take off faster?

What To Do

  1. Using the hammer and nail, punch a hole in the center of the pop bottle lid.
  2. Using masking tape, attach the balloon to the straw. Make sure there are no holes in the balloon by blowing into the straw.
  3. Attach the two short pieces of straws to the tongue depressor. These will be the axles for the wheels.

  1. Attach the four wheels using the skewers. This may be a bit tricky! You may have to adjust the bottle cap to make sure it doesn’t rub against the side of the tongue depressor.

  1. Attach the balloon and straw to the top of the car using masking tape. Make sure the straw is over the edge so there is enough room to blow into the straw!

  1. Blow into the balloon, pinch the straw and let go! Watch as the car takes off!​