Physics Balloons Car

The balloon car was an interesting project that illustrated Newton’s third law in a unique way. I chose my design for the car because I thought it was most efficient in moving air through the bottle. My end model was vastly different than my first model. In my first model, I drew, there was a straw you would tape the balloon to. It turned out that this could not give the car enough momentum to move.

In my final model, the balloon was over where the cap screws on and a smaller sized hole was on the opposite end to let air out. This final model used the momentum more efficiently than the first. I also used many materials to complete this project. Throughout the project I used the items listed in no particular order: a Vitamin Water Bottle, quite a few straws, at least six balloons, a sharp knife, a large amount of tape, some cardboard, a vast supply of hot glue, a pair of scissors, at least four Hefty Brand cups, a sharpie, and an Arrowhead bottle of water. The process of making said car was quite a journey.

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I first started out with a simple blueprint. Following this blueprint, I drew a hole on the bottle with the Sharpie and then cut the hole with a very sharp knife. After that, I cut the straws with the scissors for the axles and tube at the top and glued them onto the bottle. Then with the scissors, I cut the Hefty cups into wheels for the car. I thereupon glued the four axles onto the bottle with a hot glue gun. After that, I used the hot glue gun to glue my straw shaft into the hole on the top of my car.

I then put my wheels onto the axles and made a tip with the hot glue at the end so my wheels would not fall off. I tested this model and it failed. At that point, I tried the car out with a balloon and it did not move. After that, I decided that I needed to revamp the entire vehicle. I used an Arrowhead bottle, a lighter, smaller style bottle, and drew more marks on the bottle for the new axle placement. I then smoothed out my wheels to reduce friction on both the axle and the ground.

I used straws with the bendy part cut off as my new axles on the ends of my car. Then I glued my axles on to my car and made and glued a new, longer straw shaft onto my car. The car never the less still did not move. I realized that the wheels needed support after seeing this happen. Using cardboard, I used scissors to cut eight washers for my wheels.

I then glued them into place on the sides of my wheels, which I had also slimmed down again with scissors. After that, I moved the axle about a centimeter lower on the car to help with coverage on the ground and glued my axle to the car. This test was the first of my trials that moved, that being only one inch. While I had success with the washers and slimmer wheels, my airflow was poor. To adjust this, I cut off the top of the straw and closed the hole with glue. After that, I used the same sharp knife to cut a smaller hole in the bottom of the bottle.

I thereafter then put the balloon over where the cap screws on. Making sure this worked I did the fourth test. I noticed that the unsupported balloon was creating drag and getting in the way of the car’s movement. So I used two straws and hot glued them onto the bottom of the bottle so they could support the balloon in the front. The car then when tested went four feet or one and a third meter! During all of these tests, the car remained upright and seemed ready to go onto the race tests.

The car did very well and I noted that the balloon support and washers definitely contributed to its success. Newton’s third law is used in various actions in everyday life. This project was an excellent example of such use. The car would push down on the floor and the floor would push back. At some points the wheels would push against the washer and the washer would give an equal and opposite force back.

This caused the wheels to not spin as smoothly. As I would let the balloon loose, the carbon dioxide from the balloon would push against the oxygen around it, propelling it forward. The oxygen would apply a force on the carbon and vice versa, causing movement in the car. In conclusion, the balloon car was a fun project illustrating the properties of Newton’s third law. The process to have the car at the optimal peak of speed was long and took many trials with quite a bit of error.

Many materials were used and ideas thought of for this activity. Newton’s third law was illustrated in many ways such as with the oxygen/carbon dioxide and the wheels/floor. This was an intriguing experiment that was a worthwhile endeavor.