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Kids & Teens

Literary Sparks: Science, Grade 12


LAFS.1112.RST.3.8: Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.

LAFS.1112.RST.3.9: Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible

SC.912.P.12.Pa.1: Recognize that objects travel at different speeds.

SC.912.P.12.Pa.2: Identify the speed and direction of a moving object, including fast and slow, up and down, round and round, straight line.

SC.912.P.12.Pa.3: Identify the source of the force moving an object

SC.912.P.12.2: Analyze the motion of an object in terms of its position, velocity, and acceleration (with respect to a frame of reference) as functions of time.

Rocket Science, book cover

Rocket science for the rest of us : cutting-edge concepts made simple by Ben Gilliland

This interesting nonfiction book takes a look at the microbes that live on our bodies: in our hair, on our skin, and the ones we pick up everywhere we go. We’re microbiomes: a walking, talking collection of microbes, and Inside Your Insides introduces us to some of the most common microbes we share our surroundings with. We learn about bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists and mites; their preferred environments; and all the places they live on and around us.Want to understand black holes, antimatter, physics, and space exploration? Looking for a common sense guide to quantum physics that you can actually understand? Rocket Science for the Rest of Us is the book you’re looking for! Get a grip on even the most mysterious and complex sciences with Ben Gilliland’s guide to dark matter, exo-planets, Planck time, earth sciences, and more.

Waste of space, book cover

Waste of Space by Gina Damico

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama–and nothing about the fact that the production is fake.

Literary Sparks

  1. Waste of Space is an epistolary novel, a story told through transcripts, emails, news releases, etc.  Do you think this style of storytelling enhances this novel as a work of science fiction?  Why or why not?
  2. Given what you know about force, energy, and space travel, would you have believed that you were shot into space if you had been a member of the cast?   What are some clues that the show might have been faked?
  3. Does the pictograph on page 84 really explain how advances in “astronomically scientific research” have made the crew weighted in the space environment?
  4. How do you think the Spacetronauts were able to levitate during episode 4 (page 220)?
  5. Who/what was the protagonist of the novel?  Who/what was the antagonist of the novel?
  6. Do you think the author of this novel needed a scientific background to write it?  What kind of scientific knowledge would have been useful?



Materials Needed:

  •  Pop-top lid from a plastic drinking bottle. (Reusable plastic drinking bottles sometimes use these kinds of lids.)
  • An old CD or DVD that can be made unusable
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • A medium-size balloon (should be able to inflate up to at least 28 centimeters, or 11 inches)
  • Stopwatch or timer
  • Observation Sheet (located on the last page of Program Plan

Learning Outcomes Statement:

The Hovercrafts! Program will engage teens in the building of a small hovercraft, teaching them how friction is used to control vehicle speed.  This will develop the core academic skill of problem solving by allowing them to use a problem solving process and support possible solutions with facts and details.

Academic Standards:

SC.912.P.10– A. Energy is involved in all physical and chemical processes. It is conserved, and can be transformed from one form to another and into work. At the atomic and nuclear levels energy is not continuous but exists in discrete amounts. Energy and mass are related through Einstein’s equation E=mc2.

Program Type:

  • Advisory Board / Leadership
  • Life Skills
  • Research and Databases
  • Technology
  • General / Other

Library Resources/Materials to Share:

507.8 CONNOLLY The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science  by Sean Connolly

531.6 DISPEZIO Awesome Experiments in Force & Motion by Michael A Dispezio

621.46078 GABRIELSON Kinetic Contraptions: Build a Hovercraft, Airboat, and More with a Hobby Motor by Curt Gabrielson

Hoopla E Book How to Build a Hovercraft by Stephen Voltz

Y 531 LAFFERTY Force & Motion by Peter Lafferty      

Notes for Introduction:

Hello.  Welcome to our scientific exploration of forces and energy.  My name is _________. Today, we are going to specifically explore  how friction affects moving objects by making our own hovercrafts. Friction is the force created when two objects move across each other to oppose the movement. An object gliding on the floor stops because of friction. When friction is reduced, a gliding object moves faster, farther and for longer.

Have you ever ridden on a hovercraft? It is like gliding on a cushion of air! In fact, that’s exactly what you’re doing—a hovercraft is a vehicle that uses friction to glide over a smooth surface on a cushion of air. In today’s activity, you’ll get to build your own mini hovercraft using household items.  As we build and test our hovercrafts, think how different amounts of air in the balloon affect how long the hovercraft hovers.

Activities Description:


  • Remove a pop-top lid from a plastic drinking bottle.
  • Glue the base of the lid to the CD (or DVD) so that the lid covers the hole in the center with the hot glue gun.
  • Allow the glue to dry completely.


Make sure the pop-top lid is closed.

  • Blow the balloon up as large as you safely can without popping it, then pinch the neck so that no air can escape.
  • Stretch the neck of the balloon over the pop-top lid, being careful not to let any air escape. Carefully center the balloon’s opening above the pop-top lid opening. Your completed hovercraft should have CD flat on the bottom, pop-tip lid above and the inflated balloon’s neck stretched snugly around the closed lid. Your hovercraft is now ready to do some hovering!
  • Place the hovercraft on a flat surface. Start your stopwatch or timer, open the pop-top lid and push the hovercraft. Stop the stopwatch when the hovercraft stops hovering. How long did the hovercraft hover? Have participants record time on their Observation Sheet.Detach the balloon from the pop-top lid.
  • Repeat this process two more times, inflating the balloon as large as you safely can, reattaching it to the pop-top  lid, and timing how long the hovercraft hovers. Have participants record times on their Observation Sheet.
  • Repeat this process three more times, but this time only inflate the balloon to medium size. For example, if it took three breaths to blow the balloon up as large as you safely could, use only two breaths or a little less to inflate it this time.
  • Repeat this process three more times, but this time only blow the balloon up to a small size. Have participants record time on their Observation Sheet

Questions for Feedback and Reflection:

  • Overall, which size balloon allowed the CD hovercraft to hover for the longest amount of time?
  •  Which allowed it to hover for the shortest duration?
  • Why do you think this happened?
  • Given what you know about friction, how did friction affect our hovercrafts’ ability to travel longer distances?
  • Based on your observations and knowledge of friction, how do you think hover time would be affected if you changed the surface to pavement? Or glass?

Hovercraft Observation Sheet

How long did the CD hover using a large size balloon? Did the craft hover for about the same amount of time each of the three times you tested it using a large balloon?

How long did the CD hover using a medium size balloon? Did the craft hover for about the same amount of time each of the three times you tested it using a medium balloon?

How long did the CD hover using a small size balloon? Did the craft hover for about the same amount of time each of the three times you tested it using a small balloon?

Jacksonville Public Library