- Simple Machines
Design and build a blimp that flies as straight and far as possible.
For each team:
- Sky Floater balloons
- clear tape
- copier paper
- small paper clips
For each launching station:
- 2 sheets of corrugated cardboard (approx. 11 x 17 inches)
- duct tape
- rubber bands
- paper clips
- Think about shape. What are some things that are streamlined to cut easily through air or water?
- To reduce drag and move efficiently through the air, which face of a balloon should face forward?
- What could you use to firmly hold two balloons in this orientation?
DESIGN AND BUILD
- Make a neutrally buoyant blimp out of two balloons. What’s a good distance between balloons so your blimp tracks straight? (Hint: you can use other materials, like a paper tube, to connect the balloons.)
- Weight is key. How to reduce it? Where to put it? How to balance it?
- Use a rubber band-powered launching station to get your blimps moving.
- Get your blimps to fly straight and far by streamlining them and lengthening their axis of rotation. (In our testing, students found that fins helped a blimp glide straight.)
TEST AND REDESIGN
Keep these points in mind as the blimps fly.
- Use the same launcher, start the blimp at the same position, and use the same launch technique every time.
- Record the distance of each test flight and how straight the blimp went.
- After each test, think about ways to improve your design. Record the changes you made and their effects.