Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Hunter. Hunter Wonders, “When will we make a hoverboard like in Back to the Future 2?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Hunter!

Do you ever daydream about the future? What might the world be like in a few decades? Could there be cars without drivers? Trucks that fly? Boats driving on land and water? 

You may already know about self-driving cars and hovercrafts. But what about hoverboards? Picture it: You’re flying down the sidewalk on an object that looks like a skateboard without wheels. You turn a corner, swerve around other people, and get home from school in record time, without ever touching the ground! 

Does this sound like science fiction? Think again! Hoverboards are already a reality. But how do they work? 

The “hoverboards” you may have seen friends riding are actually self-balancing scooters. These scooters don’t hover above the ground. Instead, they use two wheels to get around. 

Okay, so why are they called HOVERboards? People call self-balancing scooters “hoverboards” because of the sensors that help them stay balanced. The board’s sensors find out which way the rider is leaning. They then tell the board’s motor how fast and in what direction to spin. That’s how this “hoverboard” stays balanced!

Self-balancing scooters rely on a battery pack for power, and each one contains a logic board. You can think of this as the “brain” of the hoverboard. It processes things like the speed of the board and the tilt of its wheels. The logic board also manages settings. For example, hoverboards can be put in beginner mode to limit their maximum speed. 

If you’re not satisfied with a self-balancing scooter, have no fear! Hoverboards with no wheels are coming soon—and they’ll truly float above the ground. Some of these hoverboards may use the science of magnets. They will have hover engines that contain electrically charged magnets, or electromagnets. These use an inductor to create a powerful magnetic field. When the magnetic field is strong enough, the board will float in the air! 

A company called Omni has also created a hoverboard that uses propellers. Their design even holds the Guinness World Record for the farthest flight by hoverboard. It traveled 275.9 meters (905.2 feet). The Omni hoverboard is expected to hit the shelves in late-2021.

Would you like to travel by hoverboard? Do you see a future of these vehicles zooming through the streets? Or do you imagine even better ways of getting around? Anything is possible!

Standards: NGSS.PS2.A, NGSS.PS2.B, NGSS.PS3, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

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