As a Maker Monday project, these Balloon-Powered Racers score big with our handy maker kids. They’re fun to build and cool to race in competition with friends.
This STEM activity is a simple way to illustrate Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When the pressured air escapes from the balloon, the opposite reaction sends the race car flying across the floor. It’s not very different from the science that NASA uses to send rockets into outer space.
The supplies needed are likely to be found in most households. But if you’re missing anything, head to the dollar store.
Small cars, such as Hot Wheels or Matchbox Cars
Cut a drinking straw into a piece about 4 inches long. Insert partway into a balloon and seal with duct tape.
Choose your racer and set the straw on top of the car. The balloon needs to be over the front of the car with the straw pointing to the rear. If you point it in the wrong direction, the car will race backward. You will lose the race, but it will be pretty funny!
Blow up the balloon through the straw, holding the neck of the balloon so the air doesn’t escape.
Set the racer on your starting line. (Remember to have the balloon in front.) Let go and watch your racer take off! It will run as long as the air continues to blow out. Once it’s done? Blow it up again for another race.
For more Maker Monday projects and other fun stuff for kids, visit the Kidsburgh Activities page.