Design a Better Vortex Cannon

Science Friday

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52 Downloads 301 Views Updated: Saturday, January 7, 2017 - 10:01am
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Throwing a ball across a room is easy, but throwing air? That sounds like a bit more of a challenge!

Air is a gas, a state of matter that expands to fill any container it is in. Unlike a solid or a liquid, the molecules that make up the air we breathe aren’t close together or attracted to one another, but instead move randomly and collide with one another by chance. Air also doesn’t hold its shape, so it’s difficult to apply a consistent force to enough air molecules at a time to push, throw, or otherwise move them in a single direction. For example, it’s hard to corral air into a glass like you can with water (a liquid), or hit air with a baseball bat like you can a baseball (a solid). Enter the Air Vortex Cannon.

After this experiment, you will be able to:

  • Use an air cannon to demonstrate that air, like all matter, can move in response to force and exert force on other objects.
  • Design, build, test, and re-design air cannons to maximize the force and distance traveled by the air jets produced.


Lesson tags: 
Good for Parents
Creative Commons License: 
Attribution Non-commercial ShareAlike CC (BY-NC-SA)