Friday, June 17, 2011


I brought out two Fourth of July pinwheels from storage in anticipation of the big parade next month.  My girls had fun with the toys they only see for about a month each year...blowing them and waving them around so the shiny foil would spin and spin.  This started me thinking about other "machines" we could make that use air power (
Air Powered Pinwheels
These little pinwheels brought hours (no exaggeration) of fun discovery and entertainment for my girls.  They loved blowing up the balloon and watching it deflate over and over and over and over.  I'm surprised the balloons lasted as long as they did.  The pinwheels didn't work so well after the first few trials, but they still provided plenty of fun. 

You will need:
Bendy straw
Stick pin
pencil with an eraser

Tape the open end of the balloon onto the long end of the bendy straw and create a seal.  Make sure the straw is bent into a perpendicular position.  In the straw (closer to the balloon), pin the straw onto the top of a pencil eraser.  You want the straw to be horizontal with the floor.  Now let your child blow up the balloon by blowing through the straw.  When your child releases the straw from her mouth, the force of the air leaving the balloon and pushing on the existing air should push the pinwheel around in a horizontal direction. 
Air Power Hover Craft
You will need:
Water bottle top that opens and closes (spout)
CD (old one you don't need and can be scratched up)
Hot glue gun

You will also need a smooth surface for your hover craft to glide over (table, counter top).  Hot glue the bottom of the water bottle cap over the hole in the CD.  Slip the opening of a balloon over the open water bottle top.  Blow up the balloon by putting your mouth over the hole on the bottom of the CD.  When the balloon is full enough, twist the balloon to hold in the air.  Place the CD hover craft over the counter top in gliding position.  Untwist the balloon to release the air and tap the CD slightly.  Observe the CD glide down the counter, as the air released from the balloon pushes against the counter. 

Newton's Law III "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".  In both of these activities, the air released from the balloon is pushing against something (existing air particles or the countertop that pushes the air back up against the CD).  The other object "pushes back".

1 comment:

Deceptively Educational said...

Great ideas, Lisa! I thought of your post tonight when my oldest son noticed a balloon suspended in air over our floor air-conditioning vent. Judging from his excitement, I'd say your air-related experiments would definitely be a hit. Thanks!


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