STEAM Saturday – Balloon Powered Car! (6/1/2024)

The students at our White Marsh Site spent quite a lot of time with the Easton High School Interact Club during the month of May.  Together, they engaged their engineering, problem solving, and critical thinking skills while participating in several STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) challenges.  One of their favorite activities of the month was building balloon-powered cars!  Today, we’re going to show you how you and your future engineer can make a balloon-powered car at home!

First, read the book, If I Built A Car, by Chris VanDusen.  This is a story about a boy named Jack, who, while riding in the car with his Dad one day, imagines the type of car he would design and build.  Jack’s car has lots of special features, including a snack bar, a comfy couch, a fish tank, and a pool!

After reading the story together, it’s now your turn to design and build your balloon-powered car with items you have around your house!  Search your home and gather the supplies you’ll need.  Here are some suggestions:

  • You’ll need latex balloons to power your car.
  • For the body of the car, think about using a plastic bottle or cup or a piece of cardboard.
  • The wheels can be made from CDs, bottle caps, or empty rolls of tape.
  • For the axles, consider wooden pencils or skewers.
  • You’ll also need materials to hold your car together.  Be on the lookout for items like plastic straws, glue, tape, paper clips, scissors, and rubber bands.

Much of this project is left up to you, but there are some rules to keep in mind.  First, the car music be propelled forward by the air escaping the balloon.  Next, the car must be sturdy and not fall apart while in use.  Third, the car must travel at least five feet.  And finally, the car must travel in as close to a straight line as possible.

Before you start building your car, think about the design.  How will you create the wheel and axle?  How will you connect the balloon?  Sketch out your design idea on a piece of paper.  Once you’re ready, it’s time to build!

Test your car to see if it meets the requirements.  If not, think about what changes you can make to improve the design and get your car moving further, faster, or straighter.

Find this project and more from Vivify STEAM here.

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together!

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve!

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