I have a car, I have a balloon. I have a balloon car!

Cars, balloons and motion.

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I doubt these lyrics will make a tune as catchy as ‘Pineapple pen’ but it may be a catchy activity to do with the kids as it is inexpensive, readily available and an easy way to introduce Newton’s third law (if you want to take it that far!). 

My kids love cars. They build them, pretend to be one and like to throw play with them. They also LOVE balloons. We are a house in abundance of balloons and cars so I’ve decided that this weeks activity will combine the two. We simply taped a balloon to a plastic straw, taped this to a toy car, blew up the balloon and let it go! 

To get them warmed up we had a bit of fun racing cars (excuse my shoddy iPhone pictures. They will get better!). 

                                       

I posed the question of moving the car without using hands. Smarty pants number 1 suggested we use feet before we swiftly moved on from using any body parts.

I showed them the balloon attached to a straw and we discussed how it was made before we made one together. 

All in all for this activity, you’ll need a toy car (fairly lightweight one BUT don’t limit yourself to this, more info on this in a bit), straws, masking tape, scissors, a clothes peg and of course a balloon. 

                                             

What you’re aiming to create is something like this (below) which you’ll tape to a toy car.           

                           

                    

Then it was a simple case of blow up the balloon and release. 
                                     

The air escaping propels the balloon in the opposite direction which illustrates that ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. We likened this to a rocket too. But, naturally because things with very young kids (and even with science) rarely goes to plan, we ended up having more interesting conversations about friction. Initially we tried this experiment on the carpet before taking it outside and then back inside on some laminate flooring. Of course we got very different results and discussed why. D also started to suggest ‘better’ surfaces. 

Above I mentioned about using a light weight car. We used a range of cars: heavy, light and even a constructed car from magnetic blocks. Again each had different results which we discussed. 

So you can see, this opened up a large amount of dialogue. If you want to avoid all these factors to keep it simple then make sure you complete this task on a smooth surface with a light weight car. You can even construct your own car using light household items from the recycling bin e.g. cardboard, bottle top lids for wheels etc. 

For us, this task is just the beginning. The rest of the week we are going to spend a few minutes repeating this experiment to explore different surfaces and different weighted cars before coming up with the ideal way to race the cars. This will hopefully reinforce the learning that has taken place and reinforce the main point of the experiment (3rd law of motion).  

However, it has been requested that I just blow up the balloon (whilst attached to the straw) and release them – yes we even got distracted by doing that!! 

Taken by the big brother.
Some keywords explored today: 

  • Opposite 
  • Push
  • Friction
  • Smooth
  • Bumpy
  • Light
  • Heavy

Well, there ends my first ever blog. I’ve already made a billion notes on what needs to improve for next time and I’m sure week on week I’ll continue to learn. 

Until next time……

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