We love these cannons as they are simple to make, very low cost (as long as you like eating the crisps!) and great fun. There are lots of possibilities for trying out different ideas with them. Whether this is to hit the Working Scientifically aspects of the National Curriculum or just to allow children to explore, experiment and be scientists!
What you need
- A Pringles tube (or similar)
- Large elastic bands
- Blunt pencil
- Plastic bottle that fits inside the Pringles tube
- Projectiles: cotton wool balls, ping pong balls, screwed up paper
- Sharp knife (grown up use only)
How to make your cannon
Cut the bottom off a Pringles tube (this is a grown up job!) and cut four slits in the other end. Use the slits to attach a couple of elastic bands. Push the (blunt) pencil through the plastic bottle (may need a grown up to make holes in the bottle) and the elastic bands can loop over the pencil.
How to test your cannon
Pull the bottle down and let go to fire projectiles such as screwed up paper balls, ping pong balls, cotton wool, pom poms etc. How far can you fire it? Can you hit a target? Can you knock down some plastic cups?
Ideas for use in school or home education
Get the children to bring in the tubes and plastic bottles and you only need some elastic bands. This makes it minimal on resources…you just need to plan in advance to you can collect the tubes!
Use sticky note planning in class to come up with ideas for variables. Many can be done with no further resources: change the projectile, number of elastic bands, twists in the bands, angle of launch, pull-back distance…and every time I do this the children think of ideas that I haven’t thought of! The dependent variable can also be chosen from distance flown, height reached, force (ie, can it knock down cups) or even accuracy (can you get it in a cup). This could be used as part of the forces topic in Y3 or Y5, or as a standalone STEM project any time.