How To Make A Balloon Powered Car
We added a section on the back of a LEGO car to hold a balloon, blew up the balloon and then watched the car zoom along as the air escaped from the balloon
We need to spend a bit more time perfecting our design, but this was a good start and gave us lots of ideas going forward.
Do you think it would work better with a bigger or smaller balloon?
Balloon Powered Lego Car
Continuing with our Summer of LEGO, today were sharing this fun balloon powered car made from LEGO.
A balloon powered car is a great way to learn about kinetic energy, potential energy, conservation of energy and Newtons Laws of Motion. When you blow up a balloon it stores potential energy in the form of the stretched skin of the balloon and compressed air inside the balloon.
How To Use The Car
Blow some air into the balloon through the straw. Pinch the straw shut so that the air doesnt escape. Place the car on a smooth, flat surface. Let go of the straw and watch the car GO!
- The straw is the back of the car. The balloon is the front.
- If the balloon is not holding air, there may be a gap. Wrap some more tape around the end of the balloon.
- If the balloon still is not holding any air, it might have a hole in it. Get a new balloon.
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Instructions To Follow To Build A Balloon Powered Car
Here is the complete step by step tutorial:
Step-1: Use the ruler to measure equal sized wooden skewers in order to arrange wheels to our car. Once the measurement is done, cut the wooden skewers using scissors. But make sure the thickness of wooden skewers is less or thin to hold the axles of the car. You can also use straws instead of wooden skewers.
Step-2: Now, it is time to build base or frame for our balloon powered car. I chose to build the base using a plastic cup which came with our mushroom packing since the plastic feels light and easy to manage to our required shapes. You can also use plastic bottles as it is easy to collect water bottles anywhere around the home. If you do not have empty water bottles in the home, you can buy at pharmacies and grocery stores or at any business supply store. It is not too expensive to buy a plastic water bottle. The other alternatives to plastic are rigid card board or a foam material sandwiched between very stiff papers.
So, once you choose your base material, cut out the plastic base in to required and appropriate measurements that are calculated according to the measurements of wooden skewers.
Step-3: Then, securely tape the wooden skewers to the bottom of the plastic base on either sides such that they hold the axles. Make sure the two wooden skewers are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the center line of the base as fit as possible.
Building A Drink Box Balloon Car
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Optional: Using A Sensor App To Measure The Car’s Velocity
Specific sensor apps such as phyphox let you record data using sensors that are built into many smartphones, including a light sensor which measures light levels . In this project, you can use the app to measure the velocity of your balloon car. You will do this by having your car pass between the phone and a light source, so it will block the light sensor and affect the reading.
How Does It Work
The science behind the Balloon-Powered Car is so simple but impressive. When the inflated balloon is released, the air from the balloon rushes in to the straw because of the pressure created. This is our cars propulsion system. Here, we also bring the concept of Newtons Third Law in to picture. As the Newtons Third Law says, For every action there is an opposite reaction. In case of our engineering project, Baloon-Powered Car, the action is air rushing from the straw and pushing against the air behind the car while the reaction is air rushed behind the car through the straw pushing against the car with the same force causing the car in motion towards forward movement.
The moving Balloon-Powered Car is using potential or stored energy stored inside the inflated balloon and when the balloon releases air, the energy changes to kinetic energy. Upon release of air from the balloon, the stored energy converts to kinetic energy, which makes the car move and the car will be in motion until theres not enough energy or air pressure to move it anymore.
Wow! Theres a lot of physical science packed into this simple design!
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Overview Of The Challenge
The goal of this project is to design and build a balloon-powered car. Balloon-powered means the car is propelled forward by nothing other than air escaping from a balloon. Since this is an engineering project, you need to specify your design requirements. You can come up with your own design requirements, but here are some suggestions:
- The car should be sturdy and not fall apart when in use.
- The car should go straight.
- The car should go as far as possible.
There are several different options for the project:
- You can build a balloon car using any materials that you want.
- You can measure your car’s velocity using a mobile phone equipped with a sensor app. See this section of the procedure for more details.
- You can follow the rules from the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge, which has strict rules about how you can build your car and what it must accomplish. While the 2015 challenge is over, you can still follow the rules and compare your car to the high scores. See this section of the procedure for more details.
How To Build A Fast Balloon Powered Car
Today, I have come up with an awesome engineering project, Build a Balloon Powered Car. In this project, we are going to learn about Newtons Third Law and how it is applied to design propulsion vehicles such as cars or rockets etc.
What makes a rocket move? What makes a car move? Have you ever think of the mechanism or technology or scientific principles that make a massive thing move? Ask these questions to your children or students and let them have a guess such that children will also get hold of their thinking skills. You may get answers from your kids like fuel, oil, diesel, engine, gasoline etc. But actually there is some physics involved in running cars and rockets by burning fuels. What does a Newtons Third Law says? Is there any relation between our project and Newtons Third Law? Absolutely yes. Newtons third law says that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. We are going to prove the science behind this simple engineering project using Newtons Third Law.
To understand how Newtons Third Law is applied to massive things get in motion, we took building a balloon powered car as a challenge. Also, we used very simple supplies easily available around our home to relate Newtons Third Law and its application to motion.
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How To Do This Balloon Car Project At Home
1. If you’re making your own balloon racer, first build your car. You want it to be as light as possible – if it’s too heavy, the force of the air leaving the balloon won’t be strong enough to push the car forward!You also need to make sure it has as little friction as possible. Check that the wheels turn smoothly and that there is nothing hanging down that will drag along the ground.Leah and her boys found that their homemade cars were too heavy to move much when they released the balloons. However, when they transferred their balloon engines to toy cars, they worked brilliantly!
For your balloon propelled car, you might want to make wheels out of large bottle lids or cardboard. To connect the wheels to the car, you can use wooden kebab skewers .
2. Once you’ve built your car or chosen which of your toy cars you want to use, you need to create a balloon engine.
Take a straw or candy floss cone and attach a deflated balloon tightly onto one end using a rubber band.
If you want to be extra sure that the balloon will stay in place and that there won’t be any leaks, you can also wrap some tape around the mouth of the balloon and the straw. However, if you do this it will be harder to swap out the balloon for a new one if you need to later on.
3. Now attach the balloon engine to the car using tape. Don’t tape down the balloon – you want that to be able to expand as you blow it up. Just add tape to the straw or candy floss cone.
Balloon Powered Car Diy Directions
Getting your pieces ready
Print, trace and cut out all the template pieces.
Copy all the markings on the template, to the relevant cardboard pieces.
Lightly score the fold lines on the window, bonnet & grill template. Do not cut all the way through the cardboard. Now gently fold the cardboard on all these lines. Mark the window section so you know which side is glued to the roof.
PRO TIPS!If you are using a cereal box, use the tip of a ballpoint pen to score the cardboard.
If you have used a thicker cardboard, score with a hobby knife and ALWAYS fold the cardboard inward towards the side you have scored.
Preparing the roof for the straws
Trace the shape of the bottle top onto the roof, making sure that it is centered.
Make a smaller circle inside this, for the straws and cut it out.
Gluing the pieces together
Glue the two window, bonnet & grill sections onto the roof, using either contact adhesive or a glue gun. Ensure that you are gluing the correct side to the roof.
Cut 2 straws for the axles and glue then onto the lines on the under carriage of the car.
Glue the sides of the car onto either side of the under carriage, over the straws.
On one end of the window, bonnet, grill and roof piece, cut a small hole, large enough for the two straws to fit through. This will be for the exhaust at the back of the car.
Glue this piece onto the body of the car, starting with the roof and working your way down on either side.
Lets get the straws in place
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How To Design A Balloon
We’ve seen our fair share of gasoline-and electric-powered automobiles out there, but why not test the limits of speed in something more unconventional?
Get ready for a summer of R& T Crew. Our kids club is gearing up for fun months ahead with new DIY activities added to the site every single week. We’re kicking things off with this easy-to-do build of your very own race car.
Heres what youll need:
1 roll of tape
This content was provided by the Road & Track marketing team.
Easy Balloon Powered Car
Ill be honest and say balloon powered cars can be very frustrating to make, but I have some top tips to make it much easier!
If you dont have everything you need you can also make a LEGO balloon powered car, just make sure its as light as possible. The weight of the car is the most important factor. It needs to be as light as possible.
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Ideas To Make It Faster
Balloon Car Idea
A small amount of friction is necessary for propulsion. Making the surface of the wheels a little less smooth, increases the resistive forces and eases the movement on a surface. Fastest cars with high momentum have their balloon straws parallel to the plane on which they race.
Best Balloon Car Design
A Simple Balloon Car Experiment Explanation
This activity is a fun way to explore forces, but how does it actually work?
The reason the car moves forward when you release the air from the balloon is because of Newton’s Third Law of Motion. This states that for every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction.
In this case, the air rushes out of the balloon and pushes against the air behind the car. The air behind the car pushes back, and this moves the car forward.
The balloon has been stretched by being filled with air. This creates something called potential energy. As soon as it can, it will shrink back down to its original size.
When it releases the air, the potential energy it has been storing turns into kinetic energy. The car moves forward.
We hope your kids have had fun learning how to build a balloon powered car! We think they’ll also love discovering how to make a catapult out of lolly sticks.
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How To Build Balloon
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Design and build balloon-powered LEGO cars that will blast off with the help of the air from the balloons! There are unlimited ways to build the cars and your kids will love racing them to see which one will go farther.
We just moved for the 5th time in 6 years, so most of our items are all in cardboard boxes.
I had strategically put some of my kids toys aside in a specially marked box. This box arguably was the most important box of all because it gave my kids something to play with right when we move into the new house.
And of course, I packed lots of LEGOs!
I am so glad I did that. You can do so much with LEGO blocks, including designing a balloon-powered LEGO car and a LEGO zip line for the minifigures!
This LEGO balloon car project is easy and simple, and its a fun time for the entire family! Even preschoolers can design and build their own LEGO race cars and participate in the activity. My daughter also enjoyed being the referee and watched the finish line closely to see whose car was the fastest.
Ready to race your balloon cars? HERE WE GO!
Balloon Car Design Tips
When I first tasked my son to design his own LEGO balloon-powered car, I thought I was going to build most of the car. Surprisingly, he told me that he got this and built the race car on his own. Mommy was proud.
His LEGO car had a simple design, but there is no need for more. In fact, if you build too fancy of a car, the weight of the LEGO bricks might impede the car from going far.
We tested our designs before racing our cars. My sons LEGO car had no issues with the air from the balloon pushing it forward. My car, on the other hand, kept flipping over instead of staying upright on its wheels.
The reason that the balloon was able to propel my sons car without any issues is that my sons car was low, flat, and long. Meanwhile, my car was tall and short.
Think of a race car versus an SUV. So when we apply force to the car with the air from the balloon, the air knocked my car over instead of pushing it forward.
Another design issue we noticed was that if the hole where the balloon went was too big, the balloon would fall out or change directions. To make the car go straight, we made the hole smaller. Here is a picture of what we ended up with:
To summarize, here are some tips for building your balloon-powered car:
If your LEGO balloon car is not working, be patient and try again! It may take a few tries. My first attempt certainly did not work!
I changed my car design to imitate my sons LEGO car and we were ready to go.
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