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Activity Name:

Balloon Towers

How long did it take?

1 hr

Materials:

50 long balloons you can make animal balloons out of. NO TAPE, NO STRINGS just balloons

Vocabulary to know about for this activity:
Design Structures such as a base, frame etc. 

Background/Things to know about for this activity:
What is the strongest shape when building stable architecture? (TRIANGLE)

Preparation (what should one do to prepare):
One should test out the experiment to know how to guide the students if some of them get stuck. You should also practice making something out of the balloons so that you don't pop them. 

Procedure (how to go about the activity):

We divided the students into groups of 4. The students were told that they had to build the highest balloon tower they can out of only balloons, so they can't use tape or anything to support their tower. We demonstrated that they can twist the balloons to combine them with other ones. Then we told them to draw a design as how they will go about to make the tower, and once they make a sketch, each student was given 10 balloons. The 10 balloons didn't seem to limit their design, so that's a good number to give them. 

How can the EDP or engineering design practices be incorporated into this activity?
Balloon towers incorporates the same ideas as marshmallow towers or paper towers: triangles are the most stable shape. But this challenge is harder in that balloons are so light that it's harder to prevent the tower from falling over as the students build higher. This practices their engineering process of testing and rebuilding to see what is the best way to make the tower high and not fall over. 

Comment: This activity went really well. The students had all built triangular bases and they experimented with how to make the tower tall but not fall over. Students ended up trying to balance the weight of the tower to keep it stable. Others kept on building triangles and squares out of the balloon. One team even purposefully popped one of their balloon and used the popped balloon as a "string" to tie the balloons together at the top of their tower. The students were very concerned with having their balloons popped because we told them that there were only 10 balloons. If you can get more, that would be great because they can focus on their design more than being scared about losing a balloon

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