Start your engines! Mrs. Massulo's 5th grade science class did just that as they creatively applied their knowledge of jet propulsion last week. Through building balloon-powered vehicles the students got to have some hands on fun and gained a better understanding of motion and forces. In addition, the students also applied mathematical skills to measure speed.
We divided the class into groups, and gave each group a balloon, a straw, and some tape. We also gave them access to cardboard, paper, and other materials to decorate and construct their vehicles.
For the next few days, the Studio bustled with the sound of students blowing up balloons and testing out their vehicles. While there were creative variations in each design, the functional components were similar in that each vehicle had an attached balloon on the back of the vehicle, a straw acted as the guide for the air to escape. On race day, we transformed the Studio into a racetrack, with a long race area and a finish line. The class gathered around, eager to see whose car would go furthest and fastest.
There were a few mishaps - such as balloons that popped too early and vehicles with sticky wheels - but persistence paid off and after a few design rebuilds the vehicles were a success. This project was powered by enthusiasm and ingenuity, some students even planned to build another at vehicle at home!