A balloon buggy is an enjoyable children's craft project. With parental supervision, kids can make miniature cars powered by a balloon. Balloon buggies also make unusual science fair submissions, and you can use them for other school assignments. Not only are they inexpensive to create but you may have most of the necessary materials laying around the house already. You can build more than one so you can race them. You can also experiment with the type of body and type of wheels to determine what configuration of buggy travels the fastest.
Design the frame of your buggy. An ideal buggy should be 6 to 8 inches long and 4 to 6 inches wide at its widest section. Lightweight materials like styrofoam and cardboard work best. Your frame should be triangular or rectangular in shape. Styrofoam works better as a rectangle. Cardboard cuts easily into a rectangle, or you can create a "V" shaped body. You can add additional pieces of cardboard to the "V" or triangle shape so that the axles will have something to attach to. If your car is made up of several pieces, use hot glue to secure them together.
Create wheels for the buggy. Buttons and bottle caps are options, although you can get creative and use almost any circular object. If you are using bottle caps or other circular objects without holes in them, use a small hole punch or similar object to make holes.
Construct two axles for your car. Your axles can be made from bamboo skewers or sewing pins. Pins work with styrofoam, as they can be inserted directly into the buggy base. You can also push bamboo skewers directly into styrofoam. An alternative method is to use hot glue or tape to add straws to your car base. The straws act as a bearing so that your axle will turn. Thread the bamboo through the straws once you have secured them. If necessary, trim the bamboo to the desired length. Make sure the axles spin fluidly.
Attach the wheels to the axels. You can keep them in place with hot glue if necessary. Let all of the glue dry completely, and then test your buggy to see if it rolls. Make any necessary adjustments if the wheels are not moving properly.
Partially blow up a latex balloon. The balloon should not be bigger than the body of your buggy. Attach double-stick tape to one side of the balloon. Without letting the air out, press the balloon onto the frame of your car. You can also insert straw into the balloon so that you can blow it up again while it is still attached to your balloon buggy. Let the balloon go and watch the car take off.
This project works best with children over the age of 7.
Adult supervision is required when working with hot glue and scissors.
Tips and warnings
- This project works best with children over the age of 7.
- Adult supervision is required when working with hot glue and scissors.
Things you need
- Latex balloon
- Buttons or bottle caps
- Double-sided tape
- Hot glue
- Drinking straws
- Styrofoam or cardboard
- Bamboo skewers or sewing pins
- Small hole punch (optional)