STEAM Saturday – Turkey Balloon Races! (11/25/2023)

Turkey Balloon Races

Gobble gobble!  We hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  We don’t know about you, but we’re still in the Thanksgiving spirit, and we thought today would be a perfect opportunity for a little turkey-themed STEAM!  You can sneak a fun physics lesson into the holiday weekend when you and your child have Turkey Balloon Races! 

Turkey Balloon RacesHere’s what you’ll need for this whacky winged adventure: 

  • Balloons (preferably in a turkey or Thanksgiving color, like yellow, orange, or brown) 
  • Construction paper, feathers, and other crafting supplies to decorate your turkey 
  • Glue 
  • String
  • Straws (make sure these are something that can be cut) 
  • Tape 
  • Scissors 
  • Kitchen clips 
  • Anchor points (something to hold the string at either end – people, chairs, table, etc.)

First things first… Let’s make our turkeys!  Blow up your balloon and clip the end to keep the air from escaping (it may help to twist the end before clipping).  Then, use your craft supplies to decorate your turkey.  You can add eyes, feathers, a beak…  Get as creative as you’d like while not popping your new feathered friend! 

Next, let’s set up our “race course.”  Cut a straw to about 4 inches in length and feed your string through it.  Now, tie your string off to the two anchor points.  You can use two chairs, a chair and a table, doorknobs, etc.  Pull your straw to your starting point and tape your turkey underneath the straw. 

Now it’s time to watch your turkey fly!  Remove the clip while keeping the end right with your fingers until you are ready to release.  Let go of the balloon and document what happens! 

So, what are we learning while we’re having so much fun?  Today, your future physicist is getting a lesson in Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  In the case of our Turkey Balloon Races, you are filling your balloon up with air that is under pressure.  When you release the balloon, air will escape, creating thrust to move the balloon forward.  Action:  The air escapes backward.  Reaction: the balloon moves forward! 

Blow your balloon back up and start over.  Try to think of ways to change things up when repeating your experiment to see if the result changes.  What happens if you hold the balloon really straight right before the release?  What happens if you pull the tail to the side?  What other variations can you come up with?  How do these changes affect your turkey’s “flight pattern?” 

Find the full experiment and more on the science behind it from STEAM Powered Family 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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