Student-made ‘Vehicles’ Propelled by Science

Griffin Bolher lets go of his balloon, sending it across the room

It wasn’t rocket science, but it pretty much forms the basis of it.

Students in Meghan Butler and Tim Olson’s eighth-grade science classes recently put Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion to the test with a hands-on, inquiry based engineering project.

Given a balloon, drinking straw, a pair of paper clips and rubber bands, some masking tape and a bit of string, students were charged with creating a “vehicle” that could travel along a fishing line from one side of the room to the other — about 515 centimeters — while carrying a magnet that weighed in at 92 grams.

Aaron Behm, standing, helps Peyton Morgan prepare his balloon
Aaron Behm, standing, helps Peyton Morgan prepare his balloon

“I’m going to put the magnet inside, tie this (balloon) to the string and release the air,” student Aryan Patel explained. His vehicle ran out of air just short of halfway.

But the next fishing line over, Bianca Wiegerink and Maddy Kucharczyk’s happy-faced yellow creation with its magnet taped to the top, made it across in 4.06 seconds.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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