Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by kendrew. kendrew Wonders, “how do hovercrafts work” Thanks for WONDERing with us, kendrew!
Do you like science fiction movies? If so, you’ve probably seen plenty of interesting space ships that hover and float about like magic. But did you know that there are real vehicles that can hover and travel over both water and land?
It’s true! We call these special vehicles hovercrafts. They are also sometimes called air-cushion vehicles or ACVs. Hovercrafts are known as amphibious vehicles. That means they can travel over both land and water.
Hovercrafts are more like airplanes than either boats or cars. They hover on a cushion of pressurized air. Although it might sound like magic, it’s actually pure science!
How does a hovercraft work? They have engines that power fans. These fans blow air underneath the hovercraft to lift it off of the ground. How high above the ground can these vehicles hover? This can range from six inches to over seven feet. It depends on the size of the hovercraft and the power of its engines.
To help hovercraft engines work most efficiently, hovercrafts have skirts made of fabric surrounding their bases. These help to stop the pressurized air from escaping.
Of course, that’s just how these crafts hover. How do they move? The engines also produce an air current that pushes them forward. Some hovercrafts use two separate engines. One is for thrust (forward motion), and the other creates the pressurized air cushion. Other hovercrafts have one larger engine that produces a single air stream. This is then split between thrust and cushion as needed.
Today, hovercrafts are used in many parts of the world for a variety of reasons. Because of their amphibious nature, they’re popular with militaries. They can transport people and equipment over rough terrain. They can also be used in place of boats to move large groups of people across bodies of water.
Who invented the hovercraft? The scientific principles behind the vehicles were first demonstrated by Sir Christopher Cockerell in 1955. He used a cat food can, a coffee can, and some kitchen scales to demonstrate how the craft could work. He also came up with the name “hovercraft.”
Have you ever ridden in a hovercraft? Perhaps you’ve seen one in action! They may seem very futuristic, but these vehicles have been in use for decades.
Standards: NGSS.PS2.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2