How To Make a Balloon Hovercraft

Check out this easy science fair project - Create your own table top balloon hovercraft. Learn how air and friction makes the hovercraft to slide in the table.

Hovercrafts might be old-fashioned means of transport, but they offer a ton of fun and education to children as a science fair project.

Today, we will learn about creating a ‘homemade version of hovercraft’ using just an old CD and a balloon.

Table Top Balloon Hovercraft

The homemade version of hovercrafts may not be big enough to carry huge things.

It can slide along your work table, offering a good demonstration for children to learn about friction and Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

Check out this fun and easy science fair project here!

Balloon Hovercraft Science Project

Materials required to make Homemade Balloon Hovercraft

Here is the list of supplies you need to collect before you start doing hovercrafts:

1) A balloon

2) A Plastic Bottle

3) Glue Gun

4) Duct Tape

5) An old and compact disc or CD

Things we Need

Now, you are good to go to build your miniature version of hovercraft anytime and anywhere!

Easy Step by Step Directions

Find out the instructions guide here, just follow it step by step, and refer to the pictures attached to avoid confusion while building balloon hovercraft.

Cut The Bottle

Step-1: In the first step, carefully cut the neck part of the bottle and separate it out.

Apply Glue To Paste Bottle

Step-2: Now, seal the cut piece of the water bottle at the center of the CD using hot glue or blue-tac. Wait for some time until the glue gets dry, so that the bottle piece is attached to the CD perfectly.

Fix Bottle cap to CD

Step-3: You may choose to cork it with the bottle cap. If you do so, make three to four holes on the bottle cap, such that the air goes out of the cap slowly.

Then inflate the balloon and give a small twist at its opening to secure the air from leakage.

Step-4: 

  • Place the inflated balloon over the Bottle cap on the CD by stretching its mouth region around the cap.
  • Take assistance from somebody to help you out while fixing the inflated balloon to the cap.
  • Adjust the balloon’s position and make sure it is straight and positioned at the middle point of the setup.
Place the inflated balloon over the Bottle cap on the CD

That’s it! Your miniature hovercraft is ready to glide.

Step-5: As a final step, bring your homemade version hovercraft over your work table that is hard, smooth, and flat. Then, leave it and see how amazingly your hovercraft gliding on the flat surface.

DIY Balloon Hovercraft

Tip: Hovercrafts work effectively when the shiny side of it is facing upwards that means towards you.

How does the Hovercraft work?

Hovercrafts work on the principle of Newton’s Third Law of Motion and friction.  

An inflated balloon consists of pressurized gas and is more likely to push out the air. So, as soon as the balloon’s mouth is released, the air flows out freely with pressure, creating a cushion of air beneath the CD.

The center hole of the CD and the holes on the cap help balloon to push its air slowly out of it.

The thin layer of air cushion created underneath the CD makes it move further by reducing the friction between the ground and hovercraft.

This explains Newton’s Third Law of Motion, i.e., the action is releasing air out of the balloon, and the reaction is the movement of CD in the forward direction.

Discussion Questions 

Here are the important questions to discuss with your children or students while performing the activity.

1) In what way the air released is distributed-equally or sideways, or upwards?

2) Why is an inflated balloon making the movement of hovercraft easy?

3) What is the reason behind the forward movement of the hovercraft, and why not backward?

4) What are the equal and opposite reactions involved in the homemade version of hovercraft?

5) Why is CD more likely to move when the balloon releases air?

Interesting Balloon Projects – You can try at home:

Build a Balloon Rocket

Make your own Hot Air Balloon

DIY Balloon Powered Car

Extension Ideas

Extend your ideas on this science fair project of building Mini Hovercrafts and improve your skills with the help of the following suggestions.

1) Try out using another round disc-like material and check their capability of moving hovercraft.

2) Use a deflated balloon and try to conduct the same activity. Check whether inflated or deflated balloons are showing effective results.

3) Check for different models and ideas that make your hovercraft move faster.

4) Change the size and dimensions of the bottle cap and CD to check there is some impact of friction on the movement of the CD.

5) Use different-sized balloons and check whether the bigger-sized balloon moves the CD to larger distances.

6) Different surfaces give different impacts on hovercrafts movement. So, try them out and find out.

7) Find out whether there is any chance of making better hovercrafts using larger discs like old record albums and picnic plastic plates.

8) See how the helium-filled balloon impacts the movement of hovercraft.

What if your hovercraft does not work?

Here are a couple of things to think or re-check over your hovercraft construction:

1) Check whether the CD utilized is free of cracks and distortions. If it is, replace it with new ones and conduct the activity to see the positive results.

2) If your CD is perfect to go, concentrate on the size and number of holes kept on the bottle cap. If you keep a little and fewer holes, the hovercraft does not work properly due to less pressure created during the release of air from the balloon.

3) Then, check the balloon is not leaking from any other opening, i.e., unauthorized holes except the mouth area.

4) Also, Check the surface area on which the hovercraft is supposed to glide is smooth, flat, and hard enough. Sand, dust particles, rough carpet, grass, etc., make your hovercraft motionless.

As we are not using any hazardous materials, children are good to go to build their hovercrafts! Younger children might need adult supervision because sometimes balloons give a big sound while inflated, and CDs may come with sharp edges. Happy Hovering!

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Angela
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