How to make a homemade hot air balloon when you hate big projects.
Me: So what kind of a science project do you want to do for your presentation?
D1: I am going to make a hot air balloon.
Me: A hot air balloon? You can’t make one of those!
D1: Yes I can! See, look at this. (shows me a book with a hot air balloon project in it.)
Me: Oh. Okay then…
If you’ve read here for any actual period of time, you know that I don’t go for big projects.
I mean, I LOVE the way projects come out… I just don’t enjoy the work or the mess that go along with them. And a hot air balloon? That sounded like a lot of work. And mess. And a project for me, mostly.
Why are science projects, especially for a display type thing, so parent intensive?? I decided that he was going to do as much of the work as possible. He started with plans from the Science Encyclopedia by Ian Graham.
I made him gather them, and then write a list of what we still needed. It turned out that the only thing I had to buy was a pack of colored tissue paper. Yes, this balloon is made entirely from tissue paper!!
Then he cut out the angled pieces (with help from Mom).
We attempted to figure out how they went together on the dining room table. This was a LOT of tissue paper! We opted for my bedroom floor because it is the biggest open area, and laid them out like it showed in the book. It covered an area a little over 8’x8′.
Then we formulated a plan. We put together the side pieces first, in panels and then joined the edges.
All of this thinking and figuring was done by me. I just told him where to glue next. (Augh. Why do I take these projects on??)
It was like doing a very delicate 3-D puzzle.
Laying it out on the floor helped to see how it would come together, but actually DOING it was another story.
Then the moments of truth.
I say moments, because it look a few minutes to fill the balloon. We did find one leak, but a glue stick took care of it quickly. He was SO excited to make his balloon “fly”!
We quickly learned that the balloon could go wild on us, considering it had a blow dryer inflating it.
We ended up attaching an old Easter basket to the neck of it with string in an attempt to stabilize it. It turned out that having a younger brother on hand worked out better than the basket alone. 🙂
This Friday both boys will be presenting their science projects in class at our last day of co-op.
They are both very excited to show what they did! D1 is dying to show EVERYONE his balloon! I had to force him to put it away downstairs and not demonstrate it for anyone before his presentation. And the reason it works? NOT because of the blow dryer, but because of the HEAT. Air density is less inside the balloon than outside because the air is warmer, thereby making the balloon float. And I thought only helium could do that!
This hot air balloon took us a total of 3 hours to do, from start to finish.
I got stressed, he got stressed, I barked orders, he tried to comply. I am not the best project Momma, but I tried. Really, I did. At least I learned something. 😉
He did an awesome presentation at our co-op’s science fair. His hot air balloon was a HIT!
What is the coolest science project you’ve done with your kids?