How many balloons would it take to lift me up?

Science fair projects are about so much more than science.

My eight year old recently participated in her first science fair. Because there are so many steps involved in implementing a project for a fair, it is important children are helped through the process before being expected to prepare a project on their own.

If assistance in finding an experiment is needed, the Science Buddies web site is an excellent place to go. My daughter wanted to know how many helium balloons it would take to lift her into the air.

Kids tend to want to jump right into their project and often don't even consider planning. Therefore, my first task was to slow her down and help her to think about how she would answer her question. We got out a blank notebook and wrote down some headings which would later show up on her display board:


After writing down what she knew and doing some research on the internet, she guessed at how many balloons it would take to lift her and then we designed a procedure which would help answer her question.

We purchased three helium balloons from a local store and then added weight to each of them to keep them on the ground.

 Each balloon along with its weight was weighed on the scale to see how heavy it was.

Because balloons lose their helium, she weighed each balloon every few hours over the course of several days.

 Once the balloons lost their helium, she weighed the empty balloons, string and weight.

By finding the difference between the initial and final weights, she could calculate how many balloons were required to lift her into the air.

Once this portion of the project was completed, her science project was only about half done. Results still had to be drafted, polished and presented to a panel of judges. Because she was young and didn't complete her project on her own, she did not compete, but received a participation award.

Explaining a science project to a group of adults is excellent life experience.

 I think she enjoyed talking more than any other part, but that's just her.

How many balloons would be required? I'll give you a hint. It's in the thousands.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! I love this post! What a wonderful experience for her.


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