3 Rs




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Balloon Powered Hovercraft

Balloon Powered Hovercraft

Using the materials listed, make a hovercraft and try to make it travel as far as possible.


1 old CD

1 wooden spool

1 12” party balloon

4 pscs 10 cm x 2 cm piece of duct tape

Thin card (if needed)


1. Take 1 piece of tape and attach half of it lengthwise to the base of the spool.

2. Centre the spool over the hole of the CD and tape the spool to the CD.

3. Repeat Step 2 with each piece of tape making two strips parallel on opposite sides of the spool and the other 2 parallell at 90 degrees to the first pair so that the base of the spool in securely taped to the cd with no air leaks.

4. Inflate the balloon to stretch it somewhat. Let the air out. Attach it over the wooden spool.


1. Inflate the balloon by blowing through the base of the cd. Squeeze the base of the balloon to hold the air in while you inhale before blowing more air into the balloon.

2. Gently push it along a smooth surface.


How far did it go in cm (m)? (Intent: To demonstrate Newton’s 3rd Law of Action (air coming out of the balloon in a downward motion) and Reaction (the cd moving up in the opposite direction). Newton said that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.  The distance the disc travels is related to thrust and friction.


1. How can you make the balloon cover a greater distance? (Possible Answers: Use larger balloons, use smoother surfaces, cut a straw the length of the spool and put it inside to make the hole narrower and possibly increase the thrust).

2. How can you prevent the balloon from dragging behind once its air is expended? (Possible Answer: Place a thin card around the neck of the balloon to elevate the upper part of the balloon when the air is expended to prevent it from dragging).

Updated by

Stan Taylor

September, 2012 (originally created September, 1998)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Flyby Cancelled

I arrived at Capt. Michael VandenBos School in Whitby today and was extended a warm greeting from Principal Karen Schmidlechner. She introduced me to Capt. Robert Gagnon, Advance and Safety Snowbird Pilot. He informed me that for a flypast over the school, the planes would need 1500 feet. They need a minimum of 500 feet above the flying altitude of 1000 feet for a flyby. Unfortunately the clouds were below 1500 feet and severe weather was heading eastward out of Toronto. The flyby got cancelled.

The day was not lost. Capt. Gagnon and two of his fellow pilots,  went into the classrooms to speak with the students. They also posed with the students for a school picture. Why do they come to the school every year?

They come to honour one of their own, Capt. Michael J. VandenBos, who died in a training exercise in 1998 and for whom the school was named in 2001.

Why do I come to this school? The pilots are facinating and I learn a great deal simply speaking with them.

This is the first time in 10 years that a flyby was cancelled. Here’s hoping for blue skies next year.