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STEM Challenge: Making a Balloon Car

STEM Activities for Elementary

Making a balloon car is fun and has lots of science and engineering in it. This was a terrific project.  My students were given a variety of materials and asked to make a car that could be powered by a balloon. STEM projects for kids are a great way to introduce students to design thinking and the engineering design process for kids.

balloon car

Engineering Activities for Kids

Students are challenged to make a balloon-powered car. Students worked in groups to design a car, draw and label a diagram, test their balloon car, and redesign as needed. Students love STEM challenges like this.

STEM activities for elementary studentsThe first thing the students had to make was the chassis.  I used this as an opportunity to introduce the new vocabulary word:
 
Students made these in a variety of ways.
STEM activities for third grade
STEM Middle School
STEM Design Process for kids
Next, the discovered that the wheel axel had to rotate.  There were several ways to do this but one was using a binder clip and another a straw.
STEM Engineering
Wheel and Axel
Of course, they also had to figure out how to attach the wheels nice and straight for proper rotation.
Engineering and Design
Engineering and Design Thinking
Next, they had to figure out the balloon part. 

engineering and making a balloon car

engineering and design thinking
 
Then we tested the vehicle. 
After initial testing, I allowed time to revise the design.  This group found that the balloon dragged and slowed down the vehicle so they raised the balloon.

Once everyone had the design they wanted we had a race.

The emphasis was on design thinking, revising, and using science and engineering practices. 
Other design ideas….
STEM Engineering
Science and Engineering Practices
STEM challenge elementary
 
 
This was so much fun we agreed to do it again on another day.  The students will continue to use their engineering skills and gain understanding.
This activity is available in several products here on teachingscience.us and in my TPT Store. This activity is available along with other STEM challenges and follow-up pages in the following product.
STem Engineering Bundle Elementary
and 
STEM Engineering Challenges Elementary
STEM Challenges Balloon Car Middle School
Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please share this great idea with a teacher you know!
See other ideas for STEM Challenges
Are you looking for STEM Engineering Challenges for Distance Learning? I have a whole post on that!

Start Here

I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!

 
Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit

Tina S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:05:39-06:00

Tina S

I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!   Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit
The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!

 
Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2

Richard S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:07:52-06:00

Richard S

The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!   Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2
As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.

 
Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4

Sharon M

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:24:44-06:00

Sharon M

As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.   Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4
Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.

 
Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning

Expedition Fourth

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:44:55-07:00

Expedition Fourth

Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.   Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning
My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.

 
Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer

Heidi J

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:45:49-07:00

Heidi J

My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.   Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer
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Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams