​STEAM from trash! DIY Hovercraft.

Most of the experiments performed at the School For Peculiar Children are either free or very low cost. We try to use recyclable materials, odds and ends from my husband’s wood shop, clever tricks and substitutions. We are incorporating things most of us already have in our homes.   This air cushion vehicle (ACV) demonstration is no exception. Let’s  explore the science behind ACV, also known as a hovercraft. 

Hovercraft glides over the flat surface on a cushion of air.  Because of the thin layer of air between the surface and the hovercraft, it doesn’t matter whether it is over (flat) solid ground or water: it is amphibious. 

 ^This will never be not funny (double negative, I know. It’s here for comedic effect.) Pat Venditte is ambidextrous, not amphibious.  Hovercraft is amphibious: suited for both land and water. 

For this experiment you will need:

– CD or a paper plate 

– pop-up bottle top

– baloon

– glue

We used a mystery CD (paper or plastic plate can be used instead), sports drink pop-up top,  hot glue (epoxy or super glue work just as good) and a baloon bought for a birthday 3 years ago. 

Step 1. Glue the pop-up bottle top to the CD (if you’re using a paper plate, cut a 1″ diameter hole in the middle of the plate.)

Step 2. Make sure that the pop-up top is in closed position. Blow up a balloon and place it over the closed pop-up top. 

Step 3. Open the pop-up valve. The air from the balloon will rush down throught the hole in the CD and create a cushion of air. 

Play around with the size of the balloon (will it go faster or slower if we increase the size of the baloon?), surfaces (wood floor? Carpet? Countertop? Does it make difference?)

Our entire family enjoyed this demonstration and I’m contemplating building a bigger hovercraft. Should we do it?