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Hot air balloon Maths

August 9, 2013

This week is the Bristol balloon fiesta and I noticed some opportunities for Maths (surprise, surprise).

First up. Can you estimate the volume of this balloon? I’ve got some people in the photo to give you a reference.

It’s quite tricky but that balloon is a cube. Also, balloon capacities seem to be given in litres.

This pants shaped balloon:

Has a capacity of 115 000 litres (it was announced on the speakers). Does that fit with your estimate?

Finally, what mathematical questions does this picture raise?


I’ve got:
What ratio do the balloons appear to be in?
Could we work out how far away they are?
How far do balloons travel?
How many people are in the photo (check the opposite side)?
What mass can a hot air balloon lift?
What’s the net of a balloon?
How much material?
Do the balloons have repeating patterns?
Rotational symmetry?
How much fence might have been used?

I’m interested in students looking for Maths in the picture even if they can actually answer the questions. I’m sure you can think of more!


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