Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hot Air Balloons | Easy Activity for Your Classroom Maker Space

Do you want an exciting activity for your students?

Hot Air Balloons in the Classroom!
Try challenging them to build a tissue paper hot air balloon in the classroom! 

This is an inexpensive project for your classroom Maker Space. Students will learn that hot air is less dense, that something that is heated expands, and most of all they will have FUN!

We did these hot air balloons during a summer school class using just 7 sheets of tissue paper that were 24 inches square, a piece of tag board 1-inch wide and 20-inches long, and glue sticks. You probably have these materials already in your house or classroom.

Balloons can be inflated using a blow dryer set on high or I have a fancy contraption that uses a propane torch. Yeah, that's right. A torch. {The kids do not inflate the balloons. I do.*}

If you do this challenge in your classroom, the secret to making balloons fly is by inspecting each seam to make sure each is air tight. 

This set the record for altitude!
Even the smallest tear or open seam will allow too much hot air to escape causing a failure to fly. 

The second secret is to choose a day when there is very little wind and the air is cool (under 65 degrees). 

On windy days I'll inflate them in a gym. But as you can see from the photos, we had a calm day and successful flights!

The opening on the bottom should be about 6 inches in diameter and have a one-inch strip of tag board stapled to the tissue paper in the circular opening. This gives the bottom of the balloon a little more ballast and, thereby, holds it upright.

This balloon was our record for distance.

This simple activity is impressive and kids love it. Give it a try in your classroom!

*Safety precautions were taken when using hair dryer and torch. Students were instructed on safety and only I do the inflating.*

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