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Build a Mini Hovercraft: Guided-Inquiry Kit

By: The Flinn Staff

With the Build a Mini Hovercraft Guided-Inquiry Kit for physical science and physics, learn the basics of how a vessel is able to “ride on air” while building a hovercraft.

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The first successful hovercraft, designed and built by English engineer Sir Christopher Cockerell, crossed the English Channel on July 25, 1959. As students build their own working models of a hovercraft, they learn the basic concepts of how a vessel is able to “ride on air.” Once construction is complete, students test their models, make observations, then propose testable questions. As students plan and carry out investigations, redesigning their models if they choose, they gain valuable experience in scientific and engineering practices. A great STEM activity to include when covering the concepts of force, motion, energy or air pressure.

A 9-V battery is required for each hovercraft and is available separately.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Asking questions and defining problems

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS2.A: Forces and Motion
MS-PS2.B: Types of Interactions
MS-PS3.C: Relationship between Energy and Forces
MS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
MS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
HS-PS2.A: Forces and Motion
HS-PS2.B: Types of Interactions
HS-PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
HS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Systems and system models
Energy and matter
Structure and function
Stability and change

Performance Expectations

MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object
HS-PS2-1. Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.