Book Creator

Balloon Powered Car

by JAMES CONAGHAN

Cover

Loading...
Balloon Powered Cars
Loading...
Identifying and Defining
Loading...
Through the Identification and Designing phase of the Wheeled Transport STEM project there is a great emphasis within the design process to integrate elements of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to ensure there is a fostering of skills such as creativity, critical thinking and engineering skills to be learnt amongst its participants. The goal of the STEM project is to promote critical thinking and creative thinking with common household items to create a ‘wheeled transportation’ that fulfills given limitations and success criteria.

Success criteria:
-         Vehicle must travel greater than 80cm
-         Students apply the principles of designthinking, such as empathy, ideation, prototyping, and iteration, throughout the project.
-         Students construct a fully functional balloon-powered car that meets design specifications, including efficiency, sustainability, and practicality.

-         Students must be able to show adaptability and reflexivity in feedback and obstacles that are presented before them.
Loading...
Constraints and Limitations:
-         Students must not exceed a net spend of $10.
-         Students must only use the materials given by the educator (as listed below)
-         Materials used must be environmentally friendly and sustainable
Loading...
Materials:
- Visual aids (diagrams of forces and motion)
- Small toy cars
- Objects with wheels (e.g., toy trucks, skateboards)
- Large paper sheets and markers
- Student notebooks - Cardboard sheets
- Scissors - Tape - Rulers
- Pencils - Coloured markers - Balloons
- Straws - Bottle Caps - Plastic Bottle
Balloon Powered Cars
Identifying and Defining
Through the Identification and Designing phase of the Wheeled Transport STEM project there is a great emphasis within the design process to integrate elements of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to ensure there is a fostering of skills such as creativity, critical thinking and engineering skills to be learnt amongst its participants. The goal of the STEM project is to promote critical thinking and creative thinking with common household items to create a ‘wheeled transportation’ that fulfills given limitations and success criteria.

Success criteria:
-         Vehicle must travel greater than 80cm
-         Students apply the principles of designthinking, such as empathy, ideation, prototyping, and iteration, throughout the project.
-         Students construct a fully functional balloon-powered car that meets design specifications, including efficiency, sustainability, and practicality.

-         Students must be able to show adaptability and reflexivity in feedback and obstacles that are presented before them.
Constraints and Limitations:
-         Students must not exceed a net spend of $10.
-         Students must only use the materials given by the educator (as listed below)
-         Materials used must be environmentally friendly and sustainable
Materials:
- Visual aids (diagrams of forces and motion)
- Small toy cars
- Objects with wheels (e.g., toy trucks, skateboards)
- Large paper sheets and markers
- Student notebooks - Cardboard sheets
- Scissors - Tape - Rulers
- Pencils - Coloured markers - Balloons
- Straws - Bottle Caps - Plastic Bottle
Research and Planning
Online Research:
To support overall understanding of how a car functions, we needed to look in to how the car was to move i.e. through its wheels and axle. Then to go further and look in to how we can propel the vehicle forward to go a desired distance.
We looked into secondary research in trying to understand the forces acting upon the car when moving.
  • There is a relationship between the horizontal forces exerted by the ground on tires and Amontons-Coulomb law of solid friction. Where the magnitude can not exceed the coefficient of static fraction and the force exerted by the ground on the tire (Güémez & Fiolhais, 2014).
  • There is a dragging force which is known as a function of the density or viscosity of the air. This directly relates to the aerodynamics of the car and the velocity of the car. What was also found was that the dragging force crucially depends on the velocity of the vehicle and that lower velocity forces depend on Stoke’s law (Güémez & Fiolhais, 2014) .
Source from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5EDzThMhdE
Researching and Planning (Continued)
From the given image below, we can see the basic forces that are acting upon the car caused by friction, air resistance and weight/gravity.
Step 1:
We began the STEM project by designing the chassis. We opted for a plastic bottle. This was done to keep within the financial constraint put in place, as well as, the aerodynamic benefit that a bottle has at the nose, with its carrying capability throughout its structure.
Step 2:
Next, we designed and created the wheels and axles. We knew that at the point where the axle and wheel meet would be a crucial point in the success of the movement of the vehicle. So incorporating a smooth cylindrical surface with the straw and fixating the wheel to the axle (wooden skewer) to the underside of the chassis, ensured that there was minimal loss of energy through friction.
Sourced from GCSEScience:
https://www.gcsescience.com/pfm26.htm
Planning Our Design:
Our group looked in to designing a vehicle that would allow for the greatest potential energy to be used. Looking to maximise the amount energy stored in the balloon while also looking to keep the vehicle as lightweight as possible to ensure maximum acceleration with minimal drag.

Throughout designing, we focused on selecting lightweight materials to minimise the potential drag and weight issues that may influence the performance of the car.
Step 3:
Finally, we needed to focus on the creation of an energy source, this was to be done through the balloon. We needed to have the balloon give a consistent and controlled release of energy that could be localised into a single point. This is where the straw came in and tying it off inside the inflated balloon allowed the air to flow through at an isolated point.

Once we figured the design of a localised point of energy release, we placed it into the chassis of the car and fixing it to a point to allow the energy to transfer through the vehicle, propelling it forward.

N.B. This was later adjusted in the reflection stage
Producing and Implementing
Step 1:
We began the STEM project by designing the chassis. We opted for a plastic bottle. This was done to keep within the financial constraint put in place, as well as, the aerodynamic benefit that a bottle has at the nose, with its carrying capability throughout its structure.
Step 2:
Next, we designed and created the wheels and axles. We knew that at the point where the axle and wheel meet would be a crucial point in the success of the movement of the vehicle. So incorporating a smooth cylindrical surface with the straw and fixating the wheel to the axle (wooden skewer) to the underside of the chassis, ensured that there was minimal loss of energy through friction.
Step 3:
Finally, we needed to focus on the creation of an energy source, this was to be done through the balloon. We needed to have the balloon give a consistent and controlled release of energy that could be localised into a single point. This is where the straw came in and tying it off inside the inflated balloon allowed the air to flow through at an isolated point.

Once we figured the design of a localised point of energy release, we placed it into the chassis of the car and fixing it to a point to allow the energy to transfer through the vehicle, propelling it forward.

N.B. This was later adjusted in the reflection stage
Step 2 Pic
Step 1 Pic
Step 3 Pic
Testing and Evaluating
Testing and Evaluating
To measure the success of the design, the 'race' was performed 3 times for reliability and to create an average and performed on 3 different surfaces (tiled, carpet, floorboard). All with the minimum requirement of passing 80 cm (finish line) to be deemed success.

Test 1: Tiled
Time 1: 0.52 seconds
Time 2: 0.37 seconds
Time 3: 0.40 seconds
Average: 0.43 seconds

Test 2: Carpet
Time 1: 0.73 seconds
Time 2: 0.61 seconds
Time 3: 0.63 seconds
Average: 0.656 seconds

Test 3: Floorboard
Time 1: 0.42 seconds
Time 2: 0.50 seconds
Time 3: 0.45 seconds
Average: 0.456 seconds

Results Evaluation:
It was found that Floorboards and tiled area have fairly similar results when refering to the speed at which the car went from the start to the finish line. The carpeted area had slightly slower results, due to the potential resistance that came with the carpet fibers pulling on the wheels and preventing them from taking off as quick.
Reflection:
We noticed very early on that having a very localised hole for the air to come out from, while being so small actually caused there to be little to no thrust, so the adjustment was made to put the balloon on top of the chassis and have the balloon release the energy naturally. What we found was that there was a great deal of acceleration given and it caused the vehicle to go through the race track very quickly. The results are reflected as such and have been recorded after the adjustment.
Evaluation:
The balloon-powered car STEM project was a valuable and insightful learning experience. It provided a hands-on opportunity to apply scientific principles, engineering concepts, and mathematical calculations to a practical problem.

The project encouraged critical thinking and problem-solving as we had to design, build, and test our balloon-powered cars. It challenged us to consider factors like aerodynamics, friction, and the efficiency of propulsion systems, enhancing our understanding of these fundamental STEM concepts.

Furthermore, the project fostered teamwork and collaboration, as we worked together to brainstorm ideas, make design decisions, and troubleshoot issues. It emphasized the importance of effective communication and coordination in achieving a common goal.

By witnessing the direct correlation between our design choices and the car's performance, we gained a deeper appreciation for the relevance of STEM and how it can be effectively used with students ranging from Early Stage 1 to Stage 3. For example, Early Stage 1 students may be able to observe and develop a deeper understanding of the 'push and pull' forces that are being used to propel the vehicle forward. Stage 3 may look into a deeper understanding where forces such as drag and thrust are present and even further into how aerodynamics plays a roll in how efficently they move.

Overall, the balloon-powered car project not only made STEM subjects more engaging and accessible but also inspired a sense of curiosity and exploration, motivating us to delve further into the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
PrevNext