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October 27, 2014

The Brown Bag STEM Challenge II- Hot Air Balloons

This challenge takes a little more time than some others, but it is worth it to watch students build a "stock" hot air balloon then work to design their own hot air balloon that stays aloft longer.

Tissue Paper
Glue Sticks
Copy Paper
Hair Dryers (with "low" or "cool" setting) OR
Hot Air Popcorn Popper

In this challenge, student begin by building the same hot air balloon.  I like to have teams of three for this project, simply because it is more involved and requires students to follow specific directions for this first round. I'm also a bug fan of assigning jobs, so I prefer to divide up the work like this:
  • Navigator- Reads the directions to the team
  • Surveyor- Makes any measurements and checks work
  • Manufacturer- Glues, and assembles materials
  Directions can be found all over the internet.  I personally like the Junior Balloonist plans or the directions provided by the Civil Air Patrol (who use the directions from Pitsco).

Students follow the directions to build this balloon using the directions and test it, being sure to record their "flights" using 30 seconds of hot air. Once students establish a time to beat (I usually let each team launch once and average their times to get the time to beat.)

Then, students will design their own hot air balloons striving for them to stay aloft longer.

So, what did we learn? 
Next Generation Science Standards: Planning and Carrying out Investigations, Designing Solutions; Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information CCC- Patterns, Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

CCSS Math: Measurement and Data, Geometry, Ratios and Proportional Relationships

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