Bright Futures: Potato Cannon Launch
To build upon the previous week's session of building a PVC cannon. Students will learn and discuss pressure build up, safety procedures, angles, how to measure the speed of the potato, and team building.
Class Lead: Josh Williams
Length of Class: 1 Hour
Setup: 5 Minutes
Total Staff: 3
- 1 x Built PVC Cannon - 1 x Bottle of generic Suave Hair Aerosol Spray - - http://www.cvs.com/shop/product-detail/Suave-Hairspray-Aerosol-Extreme-Hold-Unscented?skuId=409899 - 1 x 5lb bag of potatoes - 1 x Target - 1 x Vice Grips, in case end cap of cannon get stuck on) - 1 x Broom Handle, to help shove potatoes down) - 1 x Box Cutter to help reduce potato size - 1 x File, in case we needed to sharpen end of cannon - 10 x Safety Goggles - 10 x Ear plugs - 1 x Camera
We took about 10 minutes to cover the launch process. While in doors, students mimed the steps to:
- Check for Safety - Hold - Spray - Cap - Check for Safety - Launch
We then went outside, reviewed safety, and had students work in pairs to launch potatoes.
Unverified, potatoes probably launched between 200 and 400 feet.
- During early testing, we were unable to get consistent launches with only 3 - 4 seconds of hair spray. Using 4 to 6 seconds resulted in a launch 5 out of 5 times.
- During early testing, we realized that the potato must fit snug
- Occasionally the potato would break up when we tried to insert it. Launching was still quite exciting
- Learning: We were not coordinated enough to discuss angle of launch, and measuring the distance / speed. 3/4 students had a great time, one of them went along with the project but was not enthusiastic. Next time it would be nice to:
- Have someone quickly pace out the distance of the potato launched
- Have a target that students would more enthusiastically want to hit
- Have a simple setup so students could easily
- Record differences in how much hair spray was used
- Record the weight of the potato
- Record the distance launched
- Record the length of flight
- Use all of that to do quick comparisons of what affects the distance / speed of the launch
- Incredibly loud. Warn other school / staff ahead of time.
- Make sure other people watching are behind the person that is controlling the firing mechanism
- If the firing mechanism is remote, make sure no one is close to the end of the barrel, even if adjacent to it. Ear ringing occurred when I took photos of it launching while adjacent + a couple feet away from end of barrel.