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How Does a Hovercraft Hover?

by Teisha Rowland, PhD
Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
hovercraft, friction, aerodynamics, air cushion
Hovercraft made from a balloon, pop top lid, and DVD.

Introduction

Have you ever ridden on a hovercraft? It is like gliding on a cushion of air! In fact, this is exactly what is going on. A hovercraft is a vehicle that glides over a smooth surface by hovering upon an air cushion. Since a hovercraft can travel on top of flat land or water, it is an amphibious vehicle. In this activity, you will get to build your own mini hovercraft using a CD or DVD, a pop-top lid from a plastic bottle, some glue, and a balloon. How will different amounts of air in the balloon affect how long the hovercraft hovers?

Credits

Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials

  • Pop-top lid from a plastic drinking bottle. Reusable plastic drinking bottles sometimes use these kinds of lids.
  • An old CD or DVD that you are willing to part with (it will not be playable after this activity)
  • A medium-sized balloon (large enough to inflate to at least 11 inches around)
  • Craft glue or super glue
  • Stopwatch or timer
  • Large flat surface for testing the hovercraft
    Materials needed to build a hovercraft from a CD and a balloon.
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Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
hovercraft, friction, aerodynamics, air cushion