Up for a really fun physics project today? Pom Pom Shooters are pretty much one of the most fun ways to learn about physics! And since these days it’s good to use what you have, I’m showing you three ways to make them. And don’t have pom poms? Lots of things can be fired out of these, too!
Pom Pom Shooter Science
Wait, what? Yup, that pom pom takes flight because of some really cool science. The first force at play has to do with the balloon. Grab a balloon, pull on it, and then let go. It stretches and goes back to its original shape, right? This is because the balloon is elastic. This elasticity comes from the material the balloon is made of, usually latex, rubber, or nylon. These materials are all polymers, which consist of chains of molecules. When you stretch the balloon, the chains stretch out, but when you let go they go back to their original coiled up state, just like a spring.
The next force at play is coming from the air inside the pom pom shooters. When you stretch the balloon back, air fills it. Then when you let go, the air compresses inside the balloon. The compressed air escapes to an area of lower pressure out of the balloon and into the body of the shooter. This air flow causes the pom pom to fly out of the shooter.
The last force at play is gravity, of course. Because everything that goes up, must eventually come down, including pom poms.
Pom Pom Shooter Supplies Needed
- Pom poms! 1″ or smaller work best (Don’t have pom poms? Cotton balls, marshmallows, and crumpled balls of paper work too.)
- Pool noodle, cup, or toilet paper roll
- Duct tape
- Paper, cardboard, or card stock (for target)
- Pencil, pen, or markers (for target)
How to Make Pom Pom Shooters
- The first step is to cut the body of your shooter. If you’re using a toilet paper roll, skip this step. If you’re using a pool noodle, cut off a length about 4″ long. And if you’re using a paper cut, grab a knife and an adult to do this. Carefully cut out the bottom of the cup so it’s open on both ends.
- Grab a balloon and tie a knot in the end. Cut off about 1/4” of the tip end (away from the knot).
- Stretch the balloon over the end of the pool noodle, cup, or toilet paper roll as far as you can, centering the knot over the hole.
- Secure the balloon to pool noodle, cup, or toilet paper roll with duct tape.
How to Fire the Pom Pom Shooters
This is the part where it gets really fun. Pointing away from others, insert a pom pom into the shooter, pull the balloon knot, and FIRE! If you’re using a toilet paper roll or cup, point the open end upwards towards the sky a bit for shooting. This makes the pom pom drop down into the balloon and get a bigger force. The pool noodle doesn’t need this because it has a hole in the middle that helps compress the air for greater force.
How to Make a Target
We added one more thing to make pom pom shooters even more fun. A target. A simple way to draw a target is to find round bowls in various sizes and trace around them. You can tape the target onto a wall or prop it up on a box for target practice.
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