STEM Challenge Balloon Carousels

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20 Ratings
Teachers Are Terrific
Grade Levels
4th - 6th
Formats Included
  • Zip
19 + editable
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Can your students build a carousel that is propelled by balloon power? Yes, they can and this STEM Activity will amaze you! Some of your carousels may spin so fast you cannot count the revolutions. Others may not spin at all and your students will get to work to solve the problems they encounter! Kids love this one!

This challenge can be purchased as part of a money-saving bundle!

What is the challenge?

This STEM activity will have your students using some very simple supplies to create a carousel that turns. The carousel is powered with a balloon or balloons and must stay aloft on its central turning pole. Will it turn? How fast can it turn? How many balloons should you use? How will you attach it to the central pole? Great questions for your collaborative groups! The problem-solving and immediate modifications to designs are really fun to watch!

What is your prep?

Supplies needed in addition to this package include foam plates, balloons, heavy paper or cardboard, broomsticks or PVC pipe, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, string, cardboard tubes, masking tape, and optional craft items for decorating the final carousel. Of course, substitutions can be made for any of these!

The package specifically contains:

  • Cover
  • Teacher Overview
  • Materials and Preparation page
  • 5 pages of Teacher Step-by-Step Directions filled with Helpful Hints
  • one additional page of hints
  • constraints of the task poster
  • 3 pages of photos
  • 2-page lab sheet with answer key
  • 1-page lab sheet with answer key
  • Terms of Use page and Credits.
  • But there is more! The challenge also includes scoring rubrics and editable files for the constraints poster and lab sheets.


The simplified version of the third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the version most students might be familiar with. The easiest way to show this law is with a device called a Newton's Cradle.

So How Does This Apply to Balloon Carousels?

You can relate this to the balloon car with a simple explanation. What is the action? The balloon expelling air. What is the reaction? The carousel moving on a horizontal path.

NOTE: This activity is challenging. It has been tested with 4th and 5th graders. Younger grade levels are not recommended.

This challenge works perfectly with other Balloon Challenges:

Save even more money and get the entire Balloon Bundle:


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Total Pages
19 + editable
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.


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