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Balloon Cars and Pompom Poppers

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Physics Volunteer Activities
Main Image
Physics Volunteer Activities
Activity Language
Time Needed for Activity

Students build pompom poppers and balloon cars to learn about forces causing movement.

This activity is set for the Ontario Grade 3 curriculum.

Note: it does require students to not wear a mask to blow up balloons - this is not ideal for every teacher. It can be modified where students just push the car and take the balloon home and do some of the learning at home. Modifications for the cars for students learning at home are given.

What You Need

Materials if being dropped off at a school:

Activity 1: Pompom Poppers

  • Pompoms (3-4 per student)
  • Paper cup with the end cut out (1 per student)
  • 1 balloon with about 1-1.5 cm at the end cut off per student (not the neck end)
  • 3 rolls of electrical tape per class (if the teacher can distribute the tape); if the teacher cannot distribute the tape and kits are being done individually for each students, they should include a roll of scotch type tape

Activity 2: Balloon Cars

  • Small piece of cardboard (rectangle about 3 inches by 4 inches roughly) - per student (this is the car body)
  • 1 1/2 piece of a large diameter straw with 1 balloon attached using an elastic to the end that is not cut (per student)
  • 2 sets of wheels on axles (per student) - note: the wheels come off
  • 2 pieces of wide diameter straw (about 1/3 of a straw for each piece) - per student
  • 4-6 rolls of Scotch tape per class (each student needs 4-6 pieces about 5cm each to attach the 2 straw pieces to the bottom of the car and another piece or two to attach the straw to the balloon)
  • If students have their own markers, they could use these to decorate their cars
  • Extra pompoms for testing
  • Extra balloons in case some break

Materials if NOT being dropper off at a school:

Activity 1: Pompom Poppers

  • Pompom or marshmallow
  • Paper cup with the end cut out (this can be a smaller or larger cup)
  • 1 balloon with about 1.5 cm cut off the end opposite of the neck of balloon
  • Tape

Activity 2: Balloon Cars

  • Small piece of cardboard (rectangle about 3 inches by 4 inches roughly)
  • Something for wheels and axles - 2 skewers and 4 plastic water bottle tops with a hole in the top, for example (the tops in the center of the cap should be done with an adult's help)
  • A straw large enough for the skewer/axle to move freely in
  • 1/2 piece of straw
  • Tape
  • Balloon

Guide:

 

Safety Notes

As a Let’s Talk Science volunteer, safety must be foremost in our minds during all activities. As STEM role models, volunteers must always also model safe science practices.

Always keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Emphasize and demonstrate appropriate safety procedures throughout the presentation.
  • Be professional but have fun.
  • Keep workspaces clean to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Allergens should have been checked before reserving the kit (e.g. allergies to latex balloons).
  • Activity Specific Safety: Ask students to not aim their pompom popper at others.

What To Do

Activity 1: Pompom Poppers

Ask the teacher to distribute a cup, pieces of tape, and a balloon with the end cut off to each student. 

  1. Turn the cup with the hole in the bottom upside down. 
  2. Place the balloon that has the end cut off over the base of the cup - Show them how to put two hands into the cut end of the balloon so they can stretch it out wider than the base of the cup.
  3. Put the tap around the balloon and the cup to hold the balloon on.
  4. Tie a knot in the balloon at the neck.
  5. Use a crayon/marker to put their name on their cup.
  6. Ask the educator to distribute a few pompoms to each student. 
  7. Ask the students to get out of their seats to test their pompom poppers. 

Activity 2: Balloon Cars

Ask the teacher to distribute one piece of cardboard, 2 small straw pieces and tape to the students.

  1. Have the students decorate the cardboard with the crayons or their markers and put their name on it.
  2. Add two straws, one near each of the long ends of the rectangle and tape with scotch tape. Be sure these are parallel and taped securely. If the straws can move, the axles will also move and the car won't go straight.
  3. Take one wheel off one end of one set of wheels and axles and slide it through one of the straws.
  4. Do the same with the other set of wheels and the second straw. 
  5. Turn the car over.
  6. Tape the straw with the balloon on it so the straw hangs off the cardboard and don't put tape on the balloon.
  7. Have the students blow up the balloon and hold the end of the straw gently so the air doesn't escape. Place their car on the floor and let go. 
  8. Allow students to test their cars.

Discovery

Resources

Guide:

 

Resources

Guide: