3-2-1 blast off! What happens when you use a balloon to power Santa’s sleigh? Will he make his rounds in time, or will he fall flat? The kids will love this super easy-to-set-up Santa balloon rocket STEM activity. Not only is it awesome fun, but also it explores physics and the Laws of Motion! Join us as we celebrate the holiday season with festive and fun Christmas STEM activities for kids of all ages.
HERE COMES SANTA ON A BALLOON ROCKET
CHRISTMAS STEM ACTIVITIES
This is an awesome STEM activity for filling an afternoon, turning off the screens, and getting the kids up and moving while learning some great physics.
The supplies are simple, and you probably have everything you need in the junk drawer. You can use our sleigh printable or let the kids draw their own. That might keep them busy just a bit longer too. I am pretty sure my son would add jet boosters the next time.
The science behind it is awesome, and I love that you can explore physics (think Newton) with such a playful activity that gets the kids involved. Hands-on learning is an excellent way to help kids understand what’s happening and to be a part of the learning process.
A STEM challenge like this balloon rocket STEM activity is an excellent way to learn about and practice the engineering design process.
MORE EASY CHRISTMAS STEM ACTIVITIES
Make sure to check out more awesome and easy-to-do ideas for Christmas STEM. Plus, you’ll find a variety of free printables too!
SANTA BALLOON ROCKET PRINTABLE PAGES
Below you will find a printable set of sleighs, a printable design process flow sheet, and a holiday-themed STEM journal page. Make sure to check out our Build Santa a Sleigh STEM Challenge for another great afternoon of fun.
GRAB THE CHRISTMAS STEM COUNTDOWN PACK HERE!
What is the Engineering Design Process?
Engineers often follow a design process. There are many different design processes that all engineers use, but each one includes the same basic steps to identify and solve problems.
An example of the process is “ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve.” This process is flexible and may be completed in any order.
It is considered a cycle with no real starting point or endpoint. It may even loop out and expand into parallel design processes that come back to the original problem or run on a tangent.
The engineering design process has a specific task as its focus and is important as it allows the engineer to reproduce results. Also, communicate those results with other engineers once the goal is reached.
Read more and find a free printable pack too!
BALLOON ROCKET STEM ACTIVITY
Let’s get Santa’s sleigh balloon rocket set up to fly! You will need some space and two objects to tie the string to in a room. If you live someplace warm, you can even take it outside.
- Sleigh Image (or draw your own)
SANTA BALLOON ROCKET SET UP
STEP 1. Cut out the sleigh or design your own. You can use ours as an outline of the kids want to color and decorate their own.
STEP 2. Cut the length of the straw and feed the string through the straw.
STEP 3. Then you will want to tape or tie either end of the string to go across a room.
You can set up two chairs and tie the string to the chairs. Use a doorknob or whatever works in your area.
STEP 4. Blow up the balloon and fill it with potential energy! Use the clothespin to hold the balloon closed, so you have time to get it set up perfectly.
STEP 5. Tape the balloon below the straw. Make sure the straw moves freely. This is a good opportunity for problem-solving with the kids.
Don’t forget your sleigh! You want to tape the sleigh graphic to the side of the balloon!
STEP 7. Make sure the balloon is on one side of the string. You can get a stopwatch or timer ready to make it official and collect data!
Now for the big moment! It’s time to release the clothespin and let Santa’s sleigh fly!
What happened or didn’t happen? Now is a great time to evaluate the activity and ensure everything happened as you hoped it would. See our reflection questions for students.
If your balloon rocket didn’t work, what else can you try? Re-test and re-evaluate; that’s the best part of this Santa STEM activity!
HOW DOES A BALLOON ROCKET WORK
So how exactly does Santa’s sleigh get its go? It’s all about the thrust and Newton’s Third Law of Motion that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Let’s start with thrust. You blow up the balloon, so now it’s filled with gas. When you release the ballon, the air/gas escapes creating a forward pushing motion called thrust! Thrust is created by the energy released from the balloon.
Then, you can bring in Sir Isaac Newton. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the third law of motion. When the gas is forced out of the balloon, it is pushed back against the air outside the balloon, which then pushes the balloon forward!
EXTEND THE ACTIVITY
Kids will love testing this science concept repeatedly, and you can easily turn it into an experiment for older kids.
Test out differently shaped balloons, change the angle of the string or the type of string, and play around with the straw!
Why not try a sleigh race and set up two strings? Have the kids race their balloon rockets!
Also, make sure to check out more awesome Christmas STEM challenges.
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