January 9, 2010

Clip art copyrighted by Bobbie Peachey,

On this date in 1793, Jean Pierre Blanchard became the first person to successfully fly a balloon in the U.S.

d was a French man who had already ignited “balloonmania” in Europe with successful flights in his hydrogen gas balloon, starting in 1784 (although other people had already ballooned the year before). Suddenly people wanted to buy things (such as fans and ceramics and hats) decorated with images of balloons; people even wore clothing au ballon, with huge puffed sleeves and rounded skirts, or hair styled au demi-ballon.

By 1793 Blanchard brought his balloon to America. In front of witnesses such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Jame
s Madison, and James Monroe, he ascended from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and landed in New Jersey.

I can't seem to spot who made January 9th “Balloon Ascension Day” in the U.S. (although I ran across a few vague mentions of President Lincoln), or when (again, vague mentions of Civil War times), but supposedly it IS a celebrated day on which many people across the country go hot-air ballooning.

Do Ballo
on Experiments

Balloon Blast-Off

Balloon in a Bottle
Balloon ON a Bottle
Yet Another Balloon on a Bottle

Balloon Brain

Balloon the Halls!

Blow up some balloons and rub them on carpet to create static electricity. Then carefully “hang” the balloons on the wall. (They should cling because of the electrical charge.)

Do this with a number of balloons. How long before the first balloon falls? The last? Can you do an experiment to test why the various balloons come down at different times?

Balloon Shrink-Art

Use a Sharpie fine point pen to carefully draw a picture on a well-inflated balloon. Try to keep your hand and fingers off of the lines you have already drawn, because the ink will smudge before it dries.
Once your picture is complete, untie the balloon's knot and watch as your drawing shrinks up.

I've always liked how finely drawn and detailed these shrunken pictures look!

Watch "Up!"

This Disney-Pixar movie features a LOT of balloons!

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