How to Build a Toilet Paper Roll Balloon Car

Who’s up for a little recycled engineering! We love turning trash into treasure, especially treasure that moves. This post will show you how to make a Toilet Paper Roll Balloon Car. With just a few supplies and a bit of recycling, you’ll be rolling in no time.

This toilet paper roll balloon car is a fun STEM challenge using recyclables! It’s a perfect budget-friendly engineering activity for the classroom, homeschool, and scouts. Kids will learn about simple machines and the science of forces and motion.

This toilet paper roll balloon car is a fun STEM challenge using recyclables! It’s a perfect budget-friendly engineering activity for the classroom, homeschool, and scouts. Kids will learn about simple machines and the science of forces and motion.

What is a Machine?

This project is a perfect opportunity to learn about simple machines, the building blocks of all things that move. Here are the six types of simple machines:

  • Lever: A stiff board that rests on a center turning point called a fulcrum that is used to lift objects. Think teeter totter.
  • Wheel and axle: A wheel with a rod attached to the middle that can help lift objects. Think bicycle.
  • Pulley: Adds a rope to a wheel which allows you to change direction of a force. Think flagpole or window blinds.
  • Inclined plane: A hard, flat surface with one end higher than the other. Aids in moving objects. Think slide.
  • Wedge: Two inclined planes put together and helps push objects apart. Think axe.
  • Screw: An inclined plane wrapped around a pole that can lift objects or hold them together. Think screw.

a bunch of teeter totters a simple machine lever

Toilet Paper Roll Balloon Car Supplies Needed

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Masking tape
  • Paper straws
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun
  • Balloon
  • Rubber band

How to Build a Toilet Paper Roll Balloon Car (Wheel & Axle)

  1. Cut 4 circles approximately 1 1/2” in diameter out of the cardboard. A good way to cut a circle is to find something round and the right size that you can trace around.
  2. Adults, this is a good step for you to do for safety. Grab the bamboo skewer and poke a hole in the center of each cardboard circle. Then cut the bamboo skewer into two 4” pieces.

cut out wheels out of cardboard and poke with a skewer

  1. Cut two 3” pieces of paper straw. Tape onto the toilet paper roll. These will hold your wheel axles.

cut straws for toilet paper roll balloon car

tape the straws to the bottom of the toilet paper roll

  1. Feed the bamboo skewer through the straws place a cardboard wheel on each end. Hot glue the end of the skewer to the wheel for added sturdiness. If you’d like to have a sturdier car, you can use plastic cap wheels instead.

glue the wheels to the skewer

glue together the wheels and axles of the toilet paper roll balloon car

  1. Cut a 5” piece of paper straw. Grab the balloon and place it over the neck to the end of the straw. Wrap the rubber band around the neck of balloon and straw until secure. Then tape the straw to the top of the toilet paper roll.

attach the balloon to the straw with a rubber band

finished toilet paper roll balloon car

  1. Blow up the balloon and let the toilet paper roll balloon car roll! Does it move the way you expected? What’s giving it a boost?

If your car isn’t wheeling smoothly, check that the air can flow through the straw well. It’s easy to shut off the air flow if you don’t wrap the rubber band well. Also check to see that the wheels can turn freely. Try rolling the car without balloon power and make corrections if necessary.

Check out the Toilet Paper Roll Balloon Car Being Built

Check out the balloon car being built PLUS another fun project, a toilet paper roll catapult, in this video!

What’s Making the Toilet Paper Roll Balloon Car Roll?

This car has an air-powered engine! When you let go of the balloon, the air comes rushing out of the balloon due to the pressure of the balloon compressing the air. This causes a wind like force in one direction which pushes the car in the opposite direction. This is Newton’s Third Law of Motion in action: for every force there is an equal and opposite force.

More Fun Ways to Build Cars

Love turning trash into treasure? Wheeled treasure that is? Try these other car projects!

Check out our Upcycled Toy Car Bot and Car Bot from the Bot Book!

Or check out this Chemical Reaction Car from the STEAM Explorers Earth Unit Study Ebook!

 

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