Hovercrafts may seem like an impossible concept from the future, but you can recreate one at home. Learn more about air pressure with this simple activity.

hoovercraft 1


1. One disposable CD

2. One empty tape holder spool or empty thread spool

3. Hot glue gun

4. A pen

5. One balloon (about 12” works best)

hoovercraft 2


1. Glue the empty spool to the CD, so the holes line up in the center. Make sure you create a good seal to keep air from escaping.


2. Next, blow up the balloon and pinch the neck of it.


3. Place the CD on a flat surface and stretch the balloon opening over the spool. This step is easier with two people.


4. Finally, let your balloon go and watch your hovercraft fly!

Hoovercraft 3 

What’s happening?

The airflow from the balloon causes a cushion of moving air between the CD and the surface beneath it. The airflow lifts the CD and reduces friction, which allows the disc to hover freely.


You can experiment by changing the size of the balloon, using a different size disc or filling the balloon with helium instead. How do these changes affect how well the hovercraft flies?


Visit the Thinkery during winter break for more science and engineering activities.


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