Hands-on Science Fun with Balloon Boats

20 September



Does anyone else have a preschooler that doesn't believe air is anything? I mean you ask them what is in a balloon, and they tell you "nothing." Since they cannot see the air they think it isn't there. This makes it hard for them to learn the states of matter.

They of course can feel the air when the wind blows or when they wave their hands around, but you can show them air too.

Experimenting with air power makes it obvious that air is there!

An easy and fun (and possibly wet) way to see air power is with balloon boats.

Air Powered Balloon Boats


These little boats are made with pretty common materials and don't take much time to assemble, but kids sure will spend a lot of time playing with them!

Supplies for a Balloon Boat





Supplies to Make a Balloon Boat Science Experiment

How to Assemble a Balloon Powered Boat


We started with a mushroom container that had low sides and flat bottoms. I figured they would be pretty stable.

1. Use a hole punch to make a hole in one of the short sides of each boat. This is for the straw to go through, and the hole punch is a great size.

Punch a Hole for the Straw of the Balloon Boat

2. Slide the balloon onto one end of the straw.

Slide Balloon onto Straw

3. Rubber band the balloon into place. Try blowing it up through the straw if you are worried about how secure it is.

Rubber Band the Balloon to Straw

4. Stick the straw through the hole in the boat with the balloon on the inside of the boat. This is key if you want the boat to move forward in the water.

Insert Straw with Balloon inside boat

5. Hot glue around the straw on both sides. Excuse the poor glue job; it was hard for me to get around the straw!

Secure Straw with Hot Glue

6. Once they are dry, it is time to experiment with air power!

Watch the Power of Air with Balloon Boats

Now you need some water. We used an inflatable pool, but a plastic baby pool, a bath tub, or even a long plastic bin would work.

 At first, I blew up the balloons and the girls took them, holding the straws tightly, and released them in the water. 

They enjoyed watching them zoom off.

Blow up the balloon and watch the boat go

After we did it a couple times, I asked them why the boats moved on the water.

With a little thought and some observations, like the balloon deflating as the boat moves, they figured out it was air power!

Inflate the Balloon and hold the straw shut until ready to goWatch the balloon boat zoom away

They couldn't get enough of their little boats! My oldest even figured out how to blow up her own balloon once I was over it!

Experiment with air power and a balloon boat

Explore the power of air with balloon boats


Before I knew it our easy air powered science experiment also turned into a pool day. They simply could not resist the water and all got it with the boats. I told you it would get wet!

It didn't matter though; what did was that they were finally convinced that gas really was a thing and air had it's own power. All because of these little balloon boats!

Balloon Boats are a great introduction to air power








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