Science / Design & Technology KS2: Experimenting with balloon-powered cars

Children from New Invention Junior School in the West Midlands investigate building their own model cars.

They experiment with two ways that vehicles may be driven - energy directly applied to the axle with a wind-up rubber band, and energy that is separate from the axle using balloon-powered propulsion.

These models mirror the difference between road cars, in which the engine powers the wheels, and Bloodhound, which is jet engine rocket-propelled.

The children discover that the cars with two balloons work the best, but could the two balloons be arranged in a different way so that even more of the stored potential can be released?

This short film is from the series Bloodhound Adventure.

Teacher Notes

The clip could be stopped after the initial introduction to brainstorm what types of energy could be used.

Children could design their own car, make and test it.

The differences between direct power and jet or rocket engines are described which could influence design ideas.

It provides some suggestions for potentially improving performance that could lead to further experimentation.

Having tested their own cars, the rest of the clip could be viewed leading to comparison and discussion of results.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Science or Design and Technology at Key Stage 2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Level 2 in Scotland.

More from The Bloodhound Adventure

Experimenting with reaction times
What's Bloodhound like to drive?
Experimenting propulsion with water rockets
Harnessing air resistance with parachutes
How air resistance slows down vehicles
Investigating air and water resistance
Investigating friction
Is the Bloodhound SSC a car, a boat or a plane?
What impact does air resistance and density have on travelling fast?
Why doesn't Bloodhound have tyres?
What makes a supersonic car move?