You’ll have no trouble attracting interest for this STEM activity in which students construct a hovering helium balloon! There is some good science and engineering here as students must build and attach a light basket with the same mass so that the balloon will hover in the atmosphere. Tips are given to the construction of the basket and all the science behind the buoyancy is explained.
For those that have the technology, there are grade-appropriate graphic notes and images provided both at the elementary and middle school level. An extension for the activity is also described as the helium balloon loses mass over time. The activity can match NGSS Standard 3-5-ETS1-1 if one of the building materials is limited.
The activity requires a trip to the dollar store, but is relatively inexpensive even for a classroom teacher with a large class as students will work in groups. The excitement in the classroom is certainly worth the trip!
There are additional resources in this packet. After students finish, there are three provided worksheets. There is a graphic organizer about helium, a question sheet about the activity itself, and a master for the Up, Up and Away writing assignment. The latter comes with and without a word bank enabling you to differentiate the assignment.
Link to other fun STEM activities
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