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Physics Students Race Off in Battle of the Balloon Cars

valley echo

Alex Volgyesi '18
17 January 2018

First-year physics students raced their home-made balloon cars, following their lessons in mechanics. Students were instructed to build a car out of everyday materials using the air of an inflated balloon as the only propelling force.

Thien Dinh-Do Preparing for the next race Cars which reached the minimum ten meters in class competitions advanced to the school-wide competition. There, cars were ranked based on distance traveled.

Thien Dinh-Do ‘19 received first place and Omar Abbassi ‘19 came in second place. Marc Garcia 19 had the fastest car and Samantha Torres ‘19 won Best Design.

Balloon car anticipating race ahead Thien Dinh-Do's car (Orange) vs Alyssa Minnella's (Purple) The lengthy building process consisted of trying different materials and car models to find what combination produced the best results. Students had to consider factors such as force, energy, and momentum when building their cars. “We want students to have practical work with how these physics quantities work in the real world,” said physics teacher, Mrs. Shtraks.

The balloon car race has been a tradition for the physics classes for over 10 years. 

Balloon Car Race Seconds before the race The varied materials used for the cars included cracker boxes, cardboard, and water bottles for the body, and bottle caps, CD’s, and Styrofoam balls for wheels. 

Physics Club students played a key role in scorekeeping and execution of the competition. The race was open for all to spectate on Thursday, January 11, after school.