About 400 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci wanted to fly… so he studied the only flying things around at that time: birds and insects. Then he did what any normal kid would do—he drew pictures of flying machines!
Centuries later, a toy company found his drawing for an ornithopter, a machine that flew by flapping its wings (unlike an airplane, which has non-moving wings). The problem (and secret to the toy’s popularity) was that with its wing-flapping design, the ornithopter could not be steered and was unpredictable: It zoomed, dipped, rolled, and looped through the sky. Sick bags, anyone?
Hot air balloons that took people into the air first lifted off the ground in the 1780s, shortly after Leonardo da Vinci’s plans for the ornithopter took flight. While limited seating and steering were still major problems to overcome, let’s get a feeling for what our scientific forefathers experienced as we make a balloon that can soar high into the morning sky.
Materials: A lightweight plastic garbage bag, duct or masking tape, a hand-held hair dryer. And a COLD morning.
Here’s what you do:
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