A Class Project That’s More Than Hot Air

For about 30 seconds, Vanessa Hull and Allison Ross watched their hot-air balloon float through the afternoon sky on its maiden voyage.

With that simple flight, the girls and other fifth-graders at Pegasus School were learning a lesson about the laws of gases.

“It’s going up,” Allison shouted as she ran after her colorful 5-foot balloon. “Look at it go!”

Then, as the air inside the balloon cooled, it fell lazily to the ground.


The balloon flight was organized by Robert Grant, a science teacher who wants to make science fun through hands-on projects.

“It makes science much more interesting than simply reading a textbook,” Grant said.

Since the class was studying gas laws, Grant had his students pair up for three weeks and build their own balloons using tissue paper, glue and wire.

The balloons were filled with hot air, and nine rose skyward during class Friday, much to the students’ delight.

Several balloons stayed airborne for about 30 seconds, while others were less fortunate.

Grant said the class would use the information to study why some balloons succeeded and others didn’t.

“We’ll look at the construction and the weather conditions,” Grant said. “There is a lot to be learned here.”