No doubt, you’ve heard of the motorized, two-wheel, self-balancing scooter that sends kids zooming through neighborhoods and down sidewalks. With Christmas right around the corner and wish lists being drawn up, you can bet this is a list-topping item for Cove students.

But, what exactly is it, and what is it that makes it hover? S.C. Lee Junior High School students discovered Santa’s secret a little early with the opportunity to learn about what propels and lifts these hoverboards off the ground.

Using a hovercraft that was built by Copperas Cove High School students with a Copperas Cove Education Foundation grant, S.C. Lee students got a chance to glide through the school gym and down school hallways and experiment with force, mass, velocity and distance.

“It was fun but scary,” said Emma MacDonald, a student in the gifted education class. “The spinning made me feel like I was going to hit something.”

The hovercraft is made of plywood, fasteners and plastic, and is boosted by three leaf blowers. It was built for about $400.

Once the students were on the craft, force was applied, and the craft floated across the floor. The mass of the student and the hovercraft were determined and students were asked to time how long it took to reach specific distances.

Applying concepts the students learned earlier in the semester, the eighth-grade students used the hovercraft to calculate acceleration, measure mass and calculate force.

“It was a little like driving,” Makayla Davis said, imagining what it would be like when she got her license to operate a vehicle. “It was a lot of fun.”

Once all data was compiled, students created distance against time graphs and analyzed the slopes of the graphs. The slope indicated the average velocity of the hovercraft and its passenger. By collecting data on individuals of different mass, students compared how the applied force changed the acceleration of the hovercraft and how it affected the slope.

The experiment with the hovercraft covered science Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills to ensure students are able to demonstrate and calculate how unbalanced forces change speed or direction of an object’s motion, be able to differentiate between speed, velocity and acceleration, and apply Newton’s Laws.

While the hovercraft is too large for students to put under their Christmas tree or even fit into their parents’ cars, many of the S. C. Lee students have put hoverboards on their Christmas lists after learning the science behind the technology.

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