In this activity, your child will explore how the stored energy in an inflated balloon can power a homemade toy car.
Learning Area(s): Science; Sensory and Art
- 1 balloon
- 2 plastic straws
- 2 wooden skewers
- 1 plastic water bottle (8-16 ounces; lightweight flexible plastic)
- 4 water bottle lids
- tape (duct, masking, or electrical)
- rubber band (optional)
- sharp scissors
- 1 push pin
- cutting board or piece of cardboard
- journal, notebook, or a few sheets of paper stapled together
- something to write with
Click the button to open each section.
- If the plastic collapses or dents while building the car, you can pop the dents out by blowing in the bottle.
- The adult can use a utility knife if the plastic bottle is stiff and less flexible.
- If your car does not roll straight and smooth or gets stuck, you can check to make sure that the axles are parallel to each other, the straws are taped well to the bottle, and the holes of the wheels are in the center and not too large so that the wheel spins on the wooden skewer.
- If using bendable straws, use the longer part below the bend for the axles. Attach the balloon to the shorter part above the bend for the straw that goes through the bottle. If the bend in the straw causes the balloon to flop to the side, use tape to secure the straw to the center of the bottle.
- You might like to share books about energy and engineering with your child
- Energy-Physical Science for Kids by Andi Diehn (grades K-3)
- Energy Makes Things Happen by Kimberly Bradley (grades K-3)
- The Way Things Work Now by David Macaulay (grades 3+)
- Kinetic: Energy of Motion by Don Nardo (grades 4-9)
- All About Mechanical Engineering by Don Herweck (grades 4+)