Balloon Cars

Tom.. A little bit about…
A bit about you…
how you will be using this
The Plan…
Today’s Session- 2 hours
Introductions- 10 min.
Quick overview of Engineering Design
and why it is important- 15 min.
A quick example of how you use this
kind of thinking every day- 5 min.
Lab Activity- Balloon Powered
Cars- 60 min.
Debrief/Sharing- 15 min.
Questions and additional
activities-15 min.
Today we will explore what engineers do and
use the process they use to design things that
make the world a better place to live in
Think about 3 things that are NOT
normally engineered.
Quickly identify some things that are
NOT engineered
Did you think of these kind of
All of our “Stuff” is Designed & Engineered
What do Engineers Do?
They make “stuff” better- Innovate
◦ Compare the telephone or car of your
grandparents to today’s phone or car
They Invent new products
◦ Cell Phones, personal computers, X box, the
Mars lunar lander & battery powered tools
were not around when I was your age
How do they do it?
Engineers most often work in teams to
bring different skills, perspectives and
experiences to the table
Engineers today follow a flexible process
that is similar to the Scientific Method
The Engineering Design Process
A flexible structure used by engineers to guide them through problem solving
From the state of Massachusetts… there are others!!!
Step 1
Identify the Need or
Step 2
Research the Need
or Problem
Step 8
Step 7
Communicate the
Step 3
Develop Possible
Step 6
Test and Evaluate
Step 4
Select the Best
the Solution(s)
Possible Solution(s)
Step 5
Construct a
You already use this process to solve every day problems.
A quick and simple explanation using an
everyday task… I’m hungry… what’s for dinner
A more technical problem … the connectors on a life vest
don’t work after a couple of months
Using only the materials
provided, design and construct a
balloon powered car that will
travel at least 15 feet.
You may cut or reshape the
You must draw at least three
alternative plans before starting
You do not need to use
everything in the kit
• Investigate or study the materials available
• You must sketch three designs (no
materials until you have 3 drawings)
• Think about what you have seen on similar
toys or structures (2, 3 or 4 wheels?), car
bodies of craft sticks, cardboard or combo?
• Break it down into subsystems: power
system, car body, wheel and axle
Some Things to Think About
What are the big issues in this project?
Working as a team and listening to each other
We need to minimize resistance… to do that we need to reduce
friction and weight
We need to consider aerodynamics (another form of resistance)
The wheels need to be able to turn
The wheels need to rotate parallel to each other
The air flow out of the balloon or balloons needs to be controlled
Keep it simple, we only have so much time to work with
What was your basic plan?
What did you learn in the building and testing?
How would you improve your solution?
To Review: Our Plan Today:
Think about the
materials & problem
Build and Test
Make Plans and Pick One to Build
Redesign to Improve
Have fun Engineering
The Activity
Balloon Powered Cars: Design and construct a balloon
powered car that will travel at least 15 feet.
Each team of two or three will be given a kit of materials.
You may only use the materials in your kit to complete the design problem.
You can not start construction until you have 3 options drawn on your sheet
You may want to break the problem into systems… power, body, wheel & axle
There will be a selection of shared equipment available in front of the room. There
will be cutters for the dowels and cardboard in the front of the room.
You have about 20 min. to build. Hint… test/fail early, test/fail often
We will have a sharing session when done if time allows
Have fun…
…but first… groups of 2 or 3
Planning… draw at least three possible plans. You have 10 minutes
Use timer link on the desktop
Building… build your first car and test it. Try to have one built in 20 minutes.
Redesign or Improve… keep redesigning,
building and testing
as time allows
Communication (as time allows)…
How were you going to solve the problem at the beginning?
What worked and what did not work?
What would you do next if you had more time?
What did you learn in this activity?
Contact Info:
Tom Gralinski
Clark Science Center, Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
[email protected]

similar documents