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

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Hot air balloon in the atmosphere for the aeronauts

Overview: Engineering Design Challenge 

Using only the materials provided, student teams will design and create a hot air balloon that will lift off of the ground, and they will track its altitude during the flight over time. 

Driving Question: How can we design, build and launch a hot air balloon and track its altitude over time? 

Learning Targets: 

  • Students will collaborate to achieve a common goal. 
  • Students will design and build a working model of a hot air balloon. 
  • Students will describe the properties of gases and how a hot air balloon works in relation to buoyancy. 
  • Students will learn and implement the Engineering Design Process while creating a model of a hot air balloon. 

Created by the AFT Science Cadre.

The Aeronauts Giveaway Contest: 

Enter to win a private screening for you and up to 100 educators and students of Amazon Studios newest movie, “The Aeronauts,” and one-year Amazon Prime membership. The grand prize includes transportation between your school and theater with popcorn and fountain beverages for attendees. Three additional winners will win a one-year Amazon Prime membership.

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: 
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December 2019
just wow! very well done and amazing info for students
December 2019
Can't wait to use this in my science class.
December 2019
I think this can appeal to all levels of learners, from middle to high school. I love the cryptogram puzzle as it really promotes critical thinking and analysis in a really simple paper and pencil format. Even a student who is not scientifically inclined can be engaged. As a media specialist, I always look to connect to the classics. It would be a great segue to Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.
December 2019
I teach mathematics in a STEAM school and these resources will make for an incredible STEAM day activity for our students!
December 2019
Love the resources and ideas. Extremely helpful!
December 2019
An awesome hands-on lesson that fits into our school's STEM approach to learning.
December 2019
I'm excited to try this with a group of middle school students who come to the library for a "Creation Station" club that meets twice a week during study hall.
November 2019
This lesson is a high interest topic and will motivate students to research, design, build, test, and redesign their hot air balloons. Great segue for the movie.
November 2019
Great idea for a middle school design task for our forces unit as well as our weather unit.
November 2019
November 2019
Can't wait to use the puzzles!
November 2019
Love the escape room puzzle idea! Ready to go!
November 2019
This is going to go great with my MS forces unit. Great Ed Puzzles!
November 2019
I already teach the physics of hot air balloons! These activities/lessons will be added to my toolbox!
November 2019
The resources provided are extremely helpful and required very little adjustments from me for my classes. Students were completely engaged in this lesson, and our science teacher assisted with the more technical aspects.
November 2019
Can't wait to use this lesson plan/unit in the classroom! It's comprehensive and delves into topics that fit well with the 7th grade world geography course I teach, especially when teaming with the science teacher.
November 2019
This lesson does a great job using an engineering design challenge to teach content (position time graphing). The accompanying resources are well put together and user friendly.