Make Your Own Hovercraft Right at Home

Let’s have fun playing with friction — and make a hovercraft! It’s easy to make your own hovercraft that rides on a thin cushion of air. The key is understanding friction — and how to reduce it.

When two surfaces slide against each other, a force called friction makes them stick very slightly together. We see this all the time in the world around us. Rough surfaces like rock and sand create a lot of friction. If you walk on a gravel path with rubber-soled shoes, you have lots of friction. On the other hand, smooth surfaces, like ice and glass, are easy to glide over. Remember that time you slipped on a patch of ice? There’s just less friction.


Materials

  • An old CD or DVD

  • A balloon

  • A hot glue gun and glue sticks

Follow along as we make a hovercraft. It works because air is able to escape from under the CD in all directions. Because of the shape, smoothness and weight distribution, the escaping air creates a thin cushion between the CD and the table surface. This reduces the friction between the CD and the table, which allows it to hover.

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