Sky Floater Challenge

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In this design challenge activity, learners make a balloon hover at eye level for five seconds, and then make it move by creating air currents. The activity guide contains information for Educators on how to best facilitate the challenge as well as key vocabulary (buoyancy, neutrally buoyant, Newton's 1st Law, etc.). Two associated videos available for download help reinforce these concepts.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • 1 helium-filled Mylar balloon
  • paper
  • large garbage bags for storing the balloons (12 fit in a 42-gallon bag)
  • paper clips of various sizes
  • large binder clip for anchoring a balloon (optional)
  • scissors
  • clear tape
  • corrugated cardboard (about 8 inches square)
  • 2 brooms as “jaws” to capture escaped balloons (optional: if you have high ceilings)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Newton's Laws
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • 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

  • Design Squad Nation


Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0810996