Tissue Paper Hot Air Balloon
Posted June 15, 2008on:
This is a really enjoyable projects for the students. I’ve done this with kids from 7th grade to 12th grade and always with positive results. Allow two days for the building of these balloons. Use the template design to make a full size template. Even better, make several templates, it will make the project go much faster and smoother.
The hot air balloons are almost five feet tall when they are completed. If the students put a little thought into the design, they turn out really colorful. I do this activity when I’m discussing buoyancy. The temperature differential between the air inside the balloon and outside the balloon causes a density difference. The inside air expands due to the heat and becomes less dense. Just like in any liquid, an object less dense than the surrounding medium will float. One of the key points is that air is a medium just like water and that is why the balloon floats. This is not a good activity to do on a hot fall or spring day, a cold, still day is best. If I am in the gym, I use an electric heat gun to generate the hot air. If I go out to the fields (which is way more fun), I take a propane torch and VERY carefully heat the air inside the balloon. Last year I caught one of the balloons on fire. It took off into the sky and burned at the same time. There was nothing left in only a few short seconds.
I used to get the tissue paper on sale after Christmas at craft stores and drug stores. Now I go to the dollar store, they have a pack of about 30 very colorful sheets of wrapping tissue for a dollar (duh). As for the size, you won’t easily find the size sheets called for on the web site. I just have them do their best, but if this concerns you, you can scale the size of the template to match the paper.
You will need: tissue paper, glue sticks, scissors, some string (to close the top), and aluminum wire to keep the mouth open. Try to get aluminum wire, copper is much heavier and will impact their flight.
Some quick tips: They use pins to hold the tissue paper together. I just staple outside the pattern, it’s much quicker and easier. You get about two balloons per glue stick, so have plenty on hand. Good scissors really make a difference with tissue paper. When you go to launch, take a glue stick and some spare tissue paper for patching and field repairs.
(These plans were printed off the original site, the original link is dead.)
On the first page you will see part of the template layout. Do not fret, the last page has both the authors original 60″ template and my super-sized template for a 90″ hot air balloon. Yes, I made one. Yes it was awesome, although a little hard to manage.
For some reason, regardless of the age of the kids, they love to catch them on their heads. There is no harm in doing this as long as you did a good job securing the aluminum wire. Have fun.