The Great Hovercraft Race

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Interactions - SPS Chapters in Action

The Great Hovercraft Race


Stevie Momaly

Eastern Illinois University

Competitors strut their stuff on top of homemade hovercrafts. Photos courtesy of Stevie Momaly.

“When I say ‘go,’ MAKE IT SO,” announced the emcee. As two teams about to race each other switched on their hovercrafts, the riders on those crafts were lifted off the gym floor by an electric leaf blower and a bouncy castle fan. One team member waited behind each vehicle to give a push that would provide thrust, while another waited at the other end of the gym to stop the craft and its rider.

Four teams showed up to our SPS chapter’s DIY rideable hovercraft race, even though no one had ever seen or heard of such a thing before. The first-place winners, who traveled from one side of the gym to the other in the least amount of time, received $100 and their names on the Hover Cup. Prizes were also offered for second place, Best Design, and Most Creative. After the competition, participants and some audience members took turns riding the crafts, sharing their experiences, and talking about how the vehicles were made.

We wanted to put on a physics-related activity that many different kinds of people could have fun participating in. We succeeded, and discussions are already underway for next year’s competition, which hopefully will include more teams and even attract high school students. //

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