Balloon_4_Racing.jpgI wanted a fun way for my students to recognize Newton’s third law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I, however, felt it was important that students recognize this relationship. Students were shown a video of a “balloon” racing on a track. (Note: This YouTube video shows multiple balloon racers at the same time.)

Each student was given a balloon (they were allowed to select their balloon from different shapes and sizes. Students were also given a straw (to hold their balloon on the race track.) We strung monofilament fishing line across the room. Students were allowed to determine these options:

  • How to attach the straw to the balloon
  • Where to attach the straw on the balloon
  • How to attach the straw onto the fact track (the track was stationary and was not detached.)
  • How much air to use in filling the balloon.

    Students explored various options with their balloons and determined which was “best” for them. Students then raced against the clock for fastest time. I was not content with stopping at this point (because students had so much fun.) I challenged students to determine a way to return their racer to where it began. Several students asked permission to combine their balloon with a peer. It was interesting to see methods used to bring the balloon across the track and then return to its starting point. (This is a HUGE challenge! The picture shows one successful balloon.)


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