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Inflatable Space Station

The International Space Station is a marvel of engineering. Try making your own space station here on Earth!

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  • Print the Space Station Function Challenge (see materials) cards so that there are enough for everyone.
  • Print copies of the inflatable space station construction guide as needed.
  • Find a source to borrow a box fan, a leaf blower, or an industrial blower.
  • Source and buy the plastic sheets and duct tapes.


  • Imagine the following. With precision movements, an overhead crane swings a huge building block into position. Then, workers move in, climbing onto the structure and using hand and power tools to bolt the pieces together. It is a workday scene that could be found on almost any city street corner, but this construction site is 400 kilometres above Earth, in space, where conditions alternate hourly between freezing cold and searing heat.
  • Divide your Section into two smaller groups.
  • One group will receive the Space Station Function Challenge Description cards and the other group will receive the Space Station Function Challenge Name and Image cards.
  • Each person should try to find his or her matching card from the other group.
  • When everyone is matched up, each pair will describe its Space Station part and the part’s functions to the rest of the group.
  • Everyone then gets together to work on a large space station model that you can actually walk through.
  • To make the space station, cut out sections out of a plastic sheet roll, use duct tape to tape the sheet in the shape of cubes and tunnels, and use an industrial blower to fill up the station.
  • Duct tape can also be used to patch any holes that are discovered as the space station is inflating.
  • Follow the instructions on the Inflatable Space Station Instruction Guide sheet to build the model.
  • You can work in small groups to build different parts of the station.
  • As the model is inflating, the group can start identifying different parts of the space station based on what they have learned in the previous activity (note that the model is not an exact replica, but you can identify the nodes, and the trust, and some of the modules.
  • When the model is inflated (which takes about 20 minutes), you can walk through the space station.


  • What did you learn about the space station?
  • What was the most challenging part about the inflatable space station?
  • What did you like and did not like about this activity?
  • How would you do it differently next time?


  • Space Station Function Challenge cards
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • 30 meters of plastic sheet in a roll about 2-3 meters wide
  • About 60 meters of duct tape (it is best to have multiple rolls so that everyone can work at the same time).

Keep it Simple

Take it Further

  • After you build your space station, learn more about the International Space Station. See if you can spot in the sky the next time it goes by!