Build a Hovercraft for Travel on the Moon
In this science activity, kids engineer a hovercraft that uses air power to float and move.
A hovercraft is designed to use a cushion of air to float over a surface so there is less friction between the vehicle and the surface. Do you think a hovercraft would work for traveling on the Moon? Consider that there is no atmosphere – which means there is no air! So you’d have to make your own air somehow, and design a way to keep the air from floating away into space!
Can you think of advantages to using a hovercraft-type vehicle on the Moon’s surface? Engineers have designed lots of ways to travel on the Moon: some vehicles have 4 wheels, others walk, and still others are designed to hop!
- Recycled water bottle nozzle - 1 per student
- Recycled CD - 1 per student
- Hot glue and hot glue gun
- Permanent markers
- Balloon - 1 per student
- Balloon pump (optional)
Carefully hot glue a recycled water bottle nozzle over the hole of a CD, with the printed side of the CD facing up and the "play" side of the CD facing down. The nozzle should be pointing upwards, just like it would if it were still attached to a bottle. This is the body of your hovercraft. Decorate the top as desired; permanent markers will work well on the metal CD. Don't add anything heavy or unbalanced or put anything on the bottom side or your hovercraft won't glide.
When you are ready to launch, move the nozzle to the open position. Blow up your balloon, then twist the bottom closed to keep the air in. Attach the bottom of the balloon to the open nozzle without letting any air out (this might take some practice). Place the hovercraft on a very smooth, hard, even surface. Let go of your balloon, give your craft a push and watch as it glides away!
Now try out your hovercraft on different surfaces. Where does your hovercraft travel best?