Balloon Hovercraft

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In this activity (on page 2 of the PDF under GPS: Luge Activity), learners will construct a model hovercraft out of an empty spool and a piece of cardboard. A balloon provides the air pressure through the spool and a hole in the cardboard to lift the hovercraft off the table surface. Further experimenting with different sizes and shapes of cardboard can develop the best design. Relates to the linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Luge.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • an empty thread spool
  • a 4-inch square of cardboard
  • white glue, or hot melt glue gun
  • a sharpened pencil
  • a balloon (12 inch, when inflated)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Mathematics
    • Geometry
      • Solid Geometry
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Momentum and Velocity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2006

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 515566