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  • Writer's pictureDarryl Silva

Easy DIY Balloon Rocket Races

On your mark, get set, Let GO! … Easy DIY Balloon Rocket Races

Here’s a free DIY STEM activity that is easy to do and tons of fun.  Thanks Kiwi Co for sharing!  At 20 / 25 points, take 15 minutes this weekend and have some fun racing Ballon Rockets with your family members of all ages!  We did this during our camping trip this summer with four generations of STEM enthusiasts … kids, parents, grandparents and great grand parents!  Ask your kids what will happen when you change the length of the straw and size of balloon and then try it.  My kids had a blast!

  1. What:  DIY Balloon Rocket Races

  2. Rating (out of 25): At 20 Points, the rating is Do IT!  (Fun = 5 + Confidence & Curiosity = 3 + STEM Aligned = 4, + Time Value = 3, +  Cost = 5

  3. Cost:  Free (if you have the materials)

  4. Age: 3+ (recommend that parents help a little).

  5. Supplies:

  6. Balloons (multiple colours)

  7. String (multiple colours)

  8. Drinking Straws

  9. Tape

  10. Scissors

Instructions (for two people; caregiver and kid):

  1. This activity can be done in-doors or out-doors.

  2. Tie one end of a few strings (you can go up to 20 feet of string) to sturdy / fixed object and stretch the string across the open space.

  3. Feed the other end of the string through the straw and make sure you can hold the string with your fingers a bit passed the straw.

  4. Get a few pieces of tape ready to secure your straw to the balloon.

  5. Fully inflate the ballon and squeeze the open end shut with your fingers (don’t tie the end).

  6. Place the straw across the balloon – in the centre – so that one end of the straw is aligned to the balloons opening and the other to the front of the balloon. Secure the straw to the balloon with tape pieces.

  7. When you’re ready … On your mark, get set, Let GO!

STEM Lesson: This is a great activity to discuss aero dynamics, friction and thrust.  Your air exhaled into the balloon (permanent gases in air we exhale are roughly 78% nitrogen, 15 to 18%oxygen, 4 to 5% carbon dioxide and 0.96% argon, the CO2 being of course used by plants during photosynthesis) fills the balloon and it becomes compressed and eventually air will be expelled creating thrust.  Depending on the shape and size of your balloon, it will either expel more air and go farther and could be faster depending on it’s shape.  Also, the type and length of your straw will create friction along the string.  You can adjust these variables (length of straw, size of balloon) to see which combination makes the fastest balloon rocket.

Remember to ask your kids what they think will happen when you change the variables and test then test it.  Take the activity one step further and get your kids to lead the activity at their school.

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