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Balloon Car Engineering Design Unit for Middle School Science NGSS MS-ETS1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4

Design a Balloon Car

Use this low-prep unit to help your students use design thinking to create a balloon powered car!

Students will design, create a prototype, and conduct iterative testing to design and improve a balloon car. Students will consider constraints and criteria and will compare design solutions in the engineering challenge. The whole engineering process takes about 4 class periods.

balloon car races

Design a Balloon Car

Standards aligned with NGSS MS-ETS1-1, 1-2, 1-3, and 1-4.

You can be sure you’re covering the information that you need to with my standards-aligned units!

NGSS MS-ETS1-1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions

NGSS MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

NGSS MS-ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

NGSS MS-ETS1-4: Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

Design a Balloon Car Using the Design Process

A variety of activities to keep your middle school science class engaged!

This resource includes a PowerPoint slideshow on the design process with strategic note-taking guide, detailed lesson plan, follow-up pages, photos, tips, and suggestions, as well as constraints, criteria, and iterative testing.

Engaging unit that really focuses on criteria and constraints. My students loved this activity and I loved that the design process is really emphasized.

Peggy E.

This was an interesting STEM challenge that incorporated a lot of science! My students were definitely thinking and using engineering skills! Two thumbs up!

Emily S.

Great resource. My students had a blast making their balloon cars and racing them. There really was a lot of science and engineering in this activity. Great job.

Carissa B.

Other teachers LOVE this Balloon Car resource!

Check out more of the dozens of perfect reviews at Teachers Pay Teachers.

criteria and constraints balloon car

Try this unit in your classroom TODAY:

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  1. Here on
  2. Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams on Teachers Pay Teachers

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Thank you, and I hope you enjoy using this unit in your classroom!

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