design and construct a balloon-powered vehicle that will travel
along a straight path and the furthest distance.
(750 mL – 1 litre) plastic bottle from pop, water, vinegar,
round balloons (circumference when inflated may not exceed
35mm film canister lids
cm of duct tape
rubber bands (Format 64, ¼" width x 3½" length)
Students may use only the materials listed above
to construct their vehicles. They have a maximum time limite
of one half hour for the construction of their Balloon Buggy. Note: Keep track of the time used by each team to build their
buggy. The challenge is to harness the potential energy of
a single inflated balloon and design a vehicle powered by this
balloon that will roll in a straight path the furthest distance.
All materials must be used and contained within or affixed
to the buggy (nonfunctional materials must be used as a ballast).
The extra balloon may be used if the first balloon breaks or
if a team wishes to use a fresh engine for their second attempt.
If both balloons break, the vehicle is disqualified.
Regardless of the balloon’s size, its inflated circumference
may not exceed 120 cm (a previously measured, cut piece of
string can serve as a convenient measuring device). Once a
buggy has been launched, it may not be touched until the balloon
has deflated, the vehicle has come to a stop, and the distance
traveled has been recorded.
to Talk About
the components of a real car and discuss the purpose of
and contrast the students’ buggies with "real" cars they
are familiar with.
the variables of the design that could be modified to change
the distance traveled. Why are these variables important
and why would their redesign yield a different result.
how energy is harnessed and used. What sources of energy
are used daily to help us accomplish tasks?