NASA eClips Educator Guide NASA’s Real World Balloon Aerodynamics Challenge 1 and 2 [PDF 2.58 MB]
Student Design Packet [PDF 416 KB]
How can a student change the density of a helium balloon system to make it float at a specific height?
This challenge gives students firsthand experience with density -- in this case, the densities of air and helium. Students think and act like teams of scientists and engineers as they follow the eight steps of the engineering design process to create a helium balloon system that will float at a predetermined height in the classroom. Then they demonstrate how drag, lift, weight and thrust affect motion. Advanced classes or students can attach sensors to the balloons and gather environmental data.
Large unmanned helium balloons provide NASA with an inexpensive way to transport payloads into a near-space environment. Many important discoveries in fields such as X-ray/gamma-ray and infrared astronomy, cosmic rays, and atmospheric studies have been made from data collected by balloon-borne instruments.
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