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Solar Balloon Review by Jodi Galland

Tedco Toys
1-800-654-6357
498 S Washington Street
Hagerstown, IN 47346
http://www.tedcotoys.com

This solar balloon was on my wish list for quite some time when I received it for review. It’s summer, so it is the perfect time to play, I mean experiment, with it. The Tedco Toys Solar Balloon is made in the USA. The balloon is a 29” diameter, fifty foot thin, black tube of plastic, similar to a large trash bag. It comes with a 400’ spool of kite string and complete instructions with a learning guide.

The Solar Balloon works best on a cool, sunny day. Try it in the morning before the air has heated up. You first unroll the balloon and lay it in the grass, avoiding pavement and gravel which could tear the balloon. Keep clear of tall buildings, trees, and power lines. Tie one end closed with the kite string. I left about ten extra feet of string dangling so two children could control the balloon, if they wanted.

The instructions direct you to open the untied end of the balloon and to run with it to fill it with air. We have a very big yard, but I quickly realized I was going to have trouble running to fill it, simply because we have a lot of trees and bushes. The first time we used it, it was actually a bit windy. I just held the balloon open to catch the wind and was able to fill it nearly full in minutes.

Once filled, I tied the second end of the tube closed and tried to leave it in the yard to heat up. It was actually already warm and the first end had begun to float. I was amazed by its buoyancy! My boys loved running underneath it and chasing the floating end to try to grab the string. The kite string was definitely a must to keep the balloon from drifting into the sky and controlling it near objects that could damage it.

After use, simply bring the balloon to the ground, remove the kite string from one end, and gently re-roll it. I stored it in a hammock sack, but a pillowcase or other soft bag would work fine.

The Solar Balloon is rather delicate. Small tears are easily repaired with a piece of packing tape. On our third flight, I did get several larger rips in the balloon. I decided to cut the damaged end off the Solar Balloon and use the shortened piece as a complete balloon. While this made the balloon slightly less impressive, it was easier to fill and protect from further damage. Anywhere from 2-26 children were involved in our Solar Balloon flights at any given time and it held up quite well.

The educational material included explains the science behind the Solar Balloon, including solar power, thermodynamics and convection. Bernoulli’s Principle and Pascal’s Principle are also clearly described. An experiment involving light energy is also described in the literature.

The Solar Balloon is recommended for ages 14 and up. It is not intended for small children because of the risk of suffocation. It does become hot to the touch, but we experienced no issues with burning.

—Product review by Jodi Galland, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September, 2016

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