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In this activity, learners build a hovercraft using a paper plate, cup, and simple motor. Learners follow simple instructions that include helpful photos to build a vehicle that glides over a smooth surface. In doing so, learners will explore lift and propulsion as well as circuits and motors. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • 1 Paper plate
  • 1 Plastic cup
  • 1 Motor
  • 1 Propeller (piece of plastic or card stock glued to a piece of hot glue)
  • 2 Connection wires
  • 2 Small paper clips
  • 2 AA Batteries
  • 2 Brass fasteners
  • Electrical tape
  • Masking or scotch tape


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Transportation Engineering
    • Technology
      • Transportation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Motors
      • Electric Circuits
    • Motion and Forces
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop


  • All rights reserved, Watsonville Environmental Science Workshop, 2011