The Aeronauts Lesson for High School: Hot Air Balloon Engineering Design Challenge

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Check out The Aeronauts lesson for high school for a fun way to engage your students in learning about aeronautics, atmospheric pressure, and engineering.

Learning Targets 

Students can: 

  • Use a digital simulation to collect data. 
  • Use displacement to find the volume of a fluid. 
  • Describe the relationship between the mass of an object and the mass of the fluid displaced by that object. 
  • Communicate the conditions necessary for an object to float. 
  • Communicate the conditions necessary for an object to sink. 
  • Design and construct a balloon for flight based on the design criteria. 
  • Research and report on the history of aeronautics (ENRICH Option 1). 
  • Interpret atmospheric data to determine how atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speed and relative humidity change with altitude in the troposphere (ENRICH Option 2). 

Created by the AFT Science Cadre.

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 #2 Top Partner Lesson of 2019

Lesson Plan Resources

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Teacher Instructions
Teacher Instructions
Lesson tags: 
Good for Parents
Creative Commons License: 
Attribution Non-commercial NoDerivative CC (BY-NC-ND)
This resource is a part of the following collections: 
78 Lessons and Resources, 3 Collections
50 Lessons and Resources, 9 Collections


May 2020
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December 2019
Very thoughtful and aligned lesson. It has an engaging story which is sure to connect with students!
December 2019
I would love to see more classroom-ready resources aligned with physics and physical science content. This is a great foundation!
December 2019
Looking forward to using this resource in my physics class!
December 2019
Great lesson that can be used across several courses, including math and language arts for all of the writing and research elements that it contains.
November 2019
Amazing Resource for my classroom! I am excited to start planning for the first lesson!
November 2019
The material as presented does not seem very challenging for the high school level but can be a solid base for extension challenges.
November 2019
I loved all the resources this provided!
KD's picture KD
November 2019
Great lesson! Thank you for all the helpful materials!
November 2019
Wonderful collection of resources for teaching multiple standards in both chemistry and physics. And how much engagement and fun for students to design and build a working hot air balloon. Can't wait to post my students balloons in flight!
November 2019
The first PowerPoint on balloon data was a great way to stir interest in all things science, in atmospheric pressure, and uses the metric system that I love introducing so many freshmen to ... even in my Spanish classes! They didn't expect me to get so "scientific". haha See? It's not just for the science wizards, other disciplines can use this great info too!
November 2019
The abundance of materials provided, down to the rubrics (!), is incredible. It makes a lesson that may seem daunting, and even out of the comfort zone for an educator, achievable and possible!
November 2019
I plan to use this lesson for teaching forces and atmospheric pressure.