Full of Hot Air


Scheduling and use of my time, as well as my treatment, vary dramatically by school. For example, the school I am at today makes sure that a certain number of my days are set aside as preparation days. Generally they choose the days to coincide with times that other activities (which would preclude my classes either way) are scheduled. Anyhow, today is one of those days.

Since lesson planning has been taken over by the home room teachers and I made a ton of teaching materials during the summer break, other than paperwork, I don’t have a lot of pressing tasks. Were something to grab my attention, it would be easy for me to drop everything and investigate. Perhaps you are thinking, “What an odd thing to say.” Well, during second period, I looked out the window toward the playground and saw a giant, tetrahedral balloon hovering over the head of a special needs student. Step by step I was drawn in and eventually my inner nerd (which is not so much ‘inner’ as some would like) took control.

One student and his assigned teacher, having cut open and taped together numerous trash bags, were attempting to hoist a digital camera up over the schoolyard while shooting video. Unfortunately the balloon was a little too leaky and couldn’t maintain enough lift to support the camera. Depending on conditions; however, they were able to launch the balloon up a good 20 meters or so.

We discussed design concepts a bit, such as why only about 30 percent of the bags were black. Recently, in Japan, there has been a demand to police everyone’s garbage, so most manufacturer’s are only producing clear bags. General agreement was that black bags would have generated more hot air inside the balloon and provided more lift. Personally, I was amazed at how much lift could be generated without any mechanical heating process.

Anyhow, the student was excited, and we only slightly disturbed classes which noticed it out the windows. Big success for the day.


2 Responses to “Full of Hot Air”

  1. Dorothy W. Says:

    That sounds like a fun way to spend some time — much better than creating lesson plans!

  2. びっくり Says:

    I would be perfectly happy if they just used me to do science experiments with the kids. A couple weeks back I helped another teacher at the same school with launching rockets made from plastic bottles. We filled them partway with water and used bike pumps to pressure them up.

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