CD Balloon Hovercraft

A flying gliding hover craft—your very own compact mode of transportation!

Australian Curriculum links

  • Science > Physical Sciences > Year 4 > ACSSU080

You'll need

  • old CD
  • pop-top lid from a drink bottle
  • craft glue
  • balloon

Try this

  1. Close the pop-top lid and glue the base so the lid covers the hole in the centre of the CD.
  2. Blow up a balloon and pinch the neck so that no air can escape.
  3. Stretch the neck of the balloon over the pop-top.
  4. Place the CD hovercraft on a bench top and push it. How far does it move?
  5. Open the pop top lid and push the hovercraft. How far does it move this time?

Further investigation

Use your hovercraft on a number of different surfaces to investigate where it works best. Try altering the design of the hovercraft by changing some of the materials. For example, use an old vinyl record as the base or test different sized balloons.

What's happening?

When the pop-top lid is opened, air flows out of the balloon, down through the pop-top and under the CD.

The CD is evenly weighted and has a very flat surface so the air lifts the entire CD off the surface of the table. The layer of air between the bench top and the CD greatly reduces the friction between the two surfaces so the CD hovercraft can glide easily across the bench.

Real world links

An air hockey board works using the same principles as the CD hovercraft. A fan under the air hockey table pushes air through tiny holes on the table’s surface. The flowing air decreases the friction between the hockey puck and the table, allowing the puck to move quickly and freely and allowing you to score!