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Science Through Science Fiction in a Hot Air Balloon

Students like doing experiments or activities in class, but the real factual information in Science challenges them. The Philadelphia Zoo has a hot air balloon that my students have seen if not actually taken a ride up in the sky. They are excited by the thought of hot air balloon rides. By showing the connection, between the popular old movie “Wizard of Oz”, based on a book, that is fantasy with parts that would fall under science fiction, the unit will show how Science and Science Fiction are intertwined. The hot air balloon shown at the end of the movie will act as a beginning to study not only hot air balloons, but also weather and aeronautics. Dirigibles, such as the Hindenburg will be included in the unit. The students will learn how a hot air balloon and a dirigible are alike and how they are different as air machines. Basic aeronautics will be presented to explain how the hot air balloon and dirigible operate and fly. The students will be fourth and fifth graders. The unit will be multidisciplinary combining math, writing, and social studies along with the science. The unit is designed for 6 weeks with a 45 minute lesson a week.

Nancy Baulis
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