Maker Monday: Make your own balloon-powered racer
As a Maker Monday project, these Balloon-Powered Racers score big with kids who love making. They’re fun to build and cool to race in competition with friends.
This STEM activity is also a simple way to illustrate Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When the pressurized 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 a dollar store.
A note to kid makers: Please work with a parent or caregiver on this Maker Monday project and always be very careful when using tools of any kind.
Maker Monday Materials:
- Small cars, such as Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars
- Drinking straws
- Duct tape
- Masking tape
Step 1: Cut a drinking straw into a piece about 4 inches long. Insert the straw partway into a balloon and seal it with duct tape.
Step 2: Choose your racer and set the straw on top of the car. Then tape it in place with masking tape. (The balloon needs to be hanging over the front of the car with the straw pointing toward 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!)
Step 3: Blow up the balloon through the straw, pinching the neck of the balloon once it’s full so the air doesn’t escape.
Step 4: Put down your racer at your starting line, still pinching the balloon closed. (Remember to have the balloon in front.) Then 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!