Science is totally Rad and most of the sports and activities that we enjoy on an everyday basis are grounded in scientific principle. Our new Tony Hawk | Rad Science Exhibit highlights how physics and skateboarding are closely connected.
In this month’s installment of Let’s Discover we will be investigating one of these scientific principles while completing a hands on project. Get ready to discover Newton’s Third Law of Motion and build a balloon-powered car!
The concept behind the balloon-powered car is pretty simple, but still impressive! When you blow up your balloon, set your car down and let it go, the air escaping from the balloon rushes out the straw which causes propulsion. This is Newton’s Third Law at work which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, the action is the air rushing out of the balloon and the reaction is the car moving forward.
Ready to start making your balloon-powered car to see this law in motion? Follow the instructions below. Remember these instructions are just guidelines. Use whatever you have available at home to make your car and be creative!
- Foam core or corrugated cardboard
- Wooden BBQ skewers
- Regular cardboard
- Wire cutters
2. Cut two, 4-inch pieces of skewer.
3. Cut two, 3-inch pieces of straw to be your axles.
4. Mount your axles on the chassis of your car (mount them parallel to the short side of the body).
5. Slide the wooden skewers through the middle of the straws.
6. Use scissors to cut out four quarter-sized wheels from your regular cardboard.
7. Push the cardboard wheels onto the skewers – be careful of your fingers!
8. Cut the mouth ring (the lip that you blow into) off the balloon, this will allow for a better seal between the balloon and the exhaust pipe.
9. Insert a straw about one inch into the balloon. Use tape to securely fasten the straw inside the balloon (the tighter the seal the better).
10. Mount the exhaust pipe so that the point where the straw and balloon connect is about one inch from the back of the chassis and then tape the exhaust to the chassis.
11. Inflate the balloon and pinch the straw to keep the air inside the balloon.
12. Put your racer on the ground and let go. See how far it travels!
- Adjust the size of your wheels to see if it affects the distance your car can go.
- Make a fun design on your chassis to make it look funky and fresh (as the kids say today!).
- Trim your straw to try different sizes to see which exhaust system supplies the most thrust.