In this activity, students design and build a balloon-powered car to better understand the science ideas related to rocket propulsion. They use ideas of mass and force to work out ways to improve the distance travelled by their car.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • design and build a balloon-powered car
  • describe how their car is designed to go as far as possible
  • use ideas of mass and forces (such as thrustair resistance and wheel friction) to describe what might help their car travel further
  • explain what causes the balloon car to start moving, using ideas of action and reaction forces
  • explain that momentum keeps their balloon car moving once the balloon is no longer applying a force and that it will slow down because of the force of friction.

This activity is ideally done after the teaching and learning activities Introduction to rockets and space and Effervescent canister rockets

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • discussion questions
  • extension ideas
  • student worksheet.

Nature of Science

A practical challenge, such as making a balloon-powered car, can develop thinking and problem-solving skills and give experiences that help students develop a better understanding of science ideas.

    Published 30 November 2011