Thursday, July 22, 2010

Balloon Rocket Race

I'm sure you've probably seen the balloon rocket idea, before - the one where a balloon is taped to a straw, threaded on to a string, and then released to "fly" the length of the string. But, while I was perusing through Jim Wiese's Cosmic Science, being inspired to make last night's moon pudding snack, I saw it again, only modified slightly, in the most brilliant of ways.

Instead of running the string horizontally, the way I've always seen, and done it, Wiese suggests hanging the strings vertically. Then, instead of zooming across the room, the balloon rocket races up, to the ceiling!

Just in case, this is new to you, and you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me enlighten you. For this project, you need:

  • tape

  • an uninflated balloon, preferably the long kind.

  • a straw

  • a clothespin (optional)

  • and string.

Hang the string from the ceiling, with tape, so it dangles to the floor. If you want to race rockets with a friend, hang two strings.

Blow the balloon up, but do not tie it. You can use a clothespin to hold it shut, if you like.

Tape the straw to the balloon.

Thread the string through the straw, so the open end of the balloon points down. You might find it easier to thread the string through the straw, and then tape it to the balloon.

Holding onto the bottom end of the string, let go of the balloon, and watch it race to the ceiling. Keep your eyes open, because it happens fast - our balloon is the green blur in the picture, just to give you an idea.

If you decide to hold races, you might want to have some extra balloons, already blown up, and attached to straws, because once the balloons race, it takes a couple of minutes to remove the crumpled tape from them, blow them up, and retape them. And, believe me, your children will want to race their rockets more than once.

And, thanks to Wonder Mom from the Fantastic Five, for bringing to our attention that this week (July 20 to be exact), was the 41st anniversary of Niel Armstrong's walk on the moon. You can watch the History Channel's "This Day in History" clip for July 20th, here.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Christy Killoran said...

Your kids have a lot of fun learning! This is great!

Ticia said...

Wow your boy is tall! What a great way to learn about rockets.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Ticia - He is tall at 5'7 1/2'' at the age of 12 - but in the picture above he's standing on a chair, too :)

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Time to get some long balloons - this sounds very intriguing, and I didn't hear about this experiment before.