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Balloon powered car

Balloon powered car


(Sound of bubbles popping) G’day, I’m David from the Questacon
Science Squad and people have been telling me my whole
life I’m full of hot air. So it’s about time that I decided
to do something about that and put that hot air to good use.
So, I decided to make a balloon-powered car. For this I’m going to
need a piece of cardboard about 8cm by 10cm, obviously
a balloon, a couple of skewers, 3 straws, two
straight straws and one with those nice bendy bits in it.
We need 4 bottle tops, about the same size
is great, they’re going to be our wheels, some
scissors, a piece of elastic band, and last but not least
some sticky tape. Alright this is what you do: grab your straight pieces of
straw and place them on the bottom of your piece of cardboard there, just
like that, you want them just about even. Grab some sticky tape and stick them down.
There, great. One piece down… two pieces down.
Flip that over. Now, your skewers are going
to be your axles and then that’s what your wheels are
going to go on the end of. So your wheels should already have a
couple of little holes drilled in them, they want to be about the same
size as the thickness of our skewer. So stick that in one end, there we go, just like that, through the axle. Ooh no, wait a second, we want to put
these around the other way so that rough bit on the side of the bottle
cap doesn’t catch on the cardboard. Same on this side,
just push it through. There we go, beautiful.
And we’ve got a second one. Try not to stab yourself in the hand
with the pointy bit at the end of the skewer, I’m told it really hurts.
I wouldn’t know by personal experience of course, I’m not silly enough to do that.
Alright, get that one on. There, great. Alright, now, the next part, take your bendy
straw like this and your balloon and your scissors and cut your bendy straw so you’ve
got two pieces about the same length. There we go. Beaut, so you’ve
got a nice little bendy piece like that.
You can get rid of that, over you go. And take your balloon on the end of one section
of the bendy straw, elastic band on the outside, and just wrap
it around a few times, so the balloon stays onto
the end of the straw. It should end up looking
something like this. You should be able to blow it
up and no air gets out of it. Alright, now back to your wheels,
it takes a little bit of working out to try and get these straight
so the car moves forward nicely. So I’ve made one a little bit
earlier, which I’m sure works. Here it is. It’s a beauty, isn’t it?
Nice, orange wheels. OK, so grab your balloon and your
straw, get another piece of sticky tape like that and put it on the
end of your straw like there, and stick it down so the end of
the straw is poking out over the side of the car and your balloon’s
stuck in the middle of it. Now it’s time to test how it races, so get
your balloon and start to blow it up. And you might notice that
I’ve chosen a red balloon, that’s because everyone knows
that red is the fastest. Alright, let’s see how it goes.
3, 2, 1, balloon car away! Look at it go! It’s brilliant, isn’t it? If you want to find out more about
making a balloon car, you can head on down to the Questacon Science Squad website.
I’ll see you next time.

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100 thoughts on “Balloon powered car

  1. The best way to find out how far the car will travel is to make a car and test it out. The distance that your particular car will travel will vary depending upon a number of factors such as: the surface on which you are testing your car, the total weight of your materials, the size of your wheels, the type of balloon that you are using, the amount of air you put in the balloon, etc. Let us know how you go!

  2. Yes, it will travel at least 1.5 metres, but remember that different elements such as the surface of the floor, size of the balloon will effect the distance. Good Luck!

  3. Tape may be called different names in other countries. The generic name for adhesive tape in Australia is 'sticky tape'. Best of luck with your project.

  4. The best way to find out how far the car will travel is to make a car and test it out. The distance that your particular car will travel will vary depending upon a number of factors such as: the surface on which you are testing your car, the total weight of your materials, the size of your wheels, the type of balloon that you are using, the amount of air you put in the balloon, etc. Let us know how you go!

  5. im doint this project for school…if i dont have crdboard or the skewers what could i use to replace these items. i have 1 day to make this and im not really close.

  6. To replace the cardboard, you need something firm, but light so it doesn’t weigh the car down. You could try sticking a few rulers together, or use the lid to a rectangular container (like Tupperware or take away).
    To replace the skewers, you need something solid and thin so it doesn’t bend and move. You could use some thick fencing wire, a thin knitting needle, or a lolly pop stick. Just be careful you don’t poke yourself while working with sharp things 🙂
    Good luck, and have fun!

  7. @Megan121796 im not totally sure but from looking at this u can get it the cardboard from a tissue paper box and if ur careful enough u can use toothpicks and tape them together…i would cut the pointy tips of the toothpicks and then tape them together however they might not be straight..

  8. We would recommend checking the following components of your car to make sure that it can function properly, check that:

    1) the plasticine is holding your wheels in place,
    2) the skewers (within the straws) are able to easily move,
    3) the rubber band that is fastening your balloon to the straw isn’t attached too tightly (eg. preventing air from easily moving in and out of the straw/balloon) and
    4) that you are testing the car on a clear, smooth surface.
    Hopefully these hints help!

  9. @ChiefExecutive07 When we conducted the experiment we didn’t measure how far the car travelled. However, based on our observations of operating the balloon-powered cars in a number of settings, the cars can travel a couple of metres. The distance that your car will travel will depend upon the materials that you use to construct the car and the surface on which you operate the car.

  10. At the moment, we have no plans to update the website to expand on that particular activity. However a balloon powered rocket should be quite straight forward, as a balloon behaves quite similarly to a rocket already. Consider adding some light-weight fins to help your balloon fly straight. Or, perhaps, attach a straw to the balloon and feed a string through the straw. Let it go at one end and watch it fly down (or up) the string.

  11. @firestar010299 I don’t recall exactly how for our car travelled, but the distance a balloon powered car goes depends a lot on the individual construction. If you’re aiming for maximum range, try considering a few different variables before you make your car (eg: wheel size, car weight, balloon inflation size, which material the axels are made from, the type of surface it’s driving along).

  12. @firestar010299 Have a think about how changing these variables might affect the distance of the car, and then try them out to test your hypothesis. If you visit the activity page on the Questacon Science Squad Activities website, the “Investigate” section gives a very good hint towards making the car travel further. Constructing a few different versions of the car shouldn’t take more than an afternoon. Then you can spend the rest of spring break racing them!

  13. @firestar010299 One factor that is not mentioned anywhere else in this activity is: the friction between the car body and the axels. If you can minimise that, less energy will be lost to friction, and the car may go further. Try using an oil-based lubricant to make the axels more slippery. Just be sure to read the safety precautions of any substances you use.

  14. I haven’t tried using K’Nex, but I do know that Lego works well. You’re right in thinking that heavy building blocks could affect the speed and max distance of the car. It’s definitely worth experimenting with! Once you’ve tried it, post back and let us know how you went.

  15. The six simple machines are: Incline Planes, Screws, Wedges, Levers, Pulleys, and Wheel & Axels. The balloon powered car doesn’t really explore these principles any more than a standard toy car does. I recommend looking instead at some different devices, such as wheel barrows (levers and wheels) or an Archemedes’ screw (incline planes and screws).

    Best of luck.

  16. how far does it go how fast does it go?!?! i have to turn it in friday soooooo i need to know please is it worth makeing? does it work speed and how maney meters please reply

  17. Hi Ashlie,
    There are a number of ways you could look at increasing the speed of the balloon-powered car, including experimenting with how streamlined the shape of the car is; selecting wheels of different sizes and textures (eg. smooth wheels will reduce the friction between the car and the ground); and trying balloons of different shapes and sizes.

  18. When we conducted the experiment we didn’t measure how far the car travelled. However, based on our observations of operating the balloon-powered cars in a number of settings, the cars can travel a couple of metres. The distance that your car will travel will depend upon the materials that you use to construct the car and the surface on which you operate the car. See other user comments below, as some people have reported different distances. Best of luck.

  19. Slower because it is running on air if you put a 1 kg thing on top it will not move im sure of it using that type of balloon powered car

  20. awsome! might be my car for my chemistry project 🙂 Though I do have a few questions. When you mean sticky tape, does that mean duct tape? And also, my project requires a container fill with water to be taped or w/e onto the vehicle, how would i do that?

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