Create your own ‘fireworks’ in a preschool engineering challenge
What you’ll learn:
How forces can be applied, what poential and kinetic energy are.
Creating new contraptions can be fun!
Pop! It is always fun when you can shoot things around, and it is even more exciting if you design you shooter, or in this case, a confetti popper.
These simple tools will allow you to hurtle pom poms through the air in a fun all ages engineering challenge. You can challenge older kids to use the materials provided to create a confetti popper or shooter with no further instruction. This will scale the challenge up for them.
Likewise, for younger hands, you can scale the activity down by helping them follow the step by step instructions below to build their own successful confetti popper!
- TP tube
- Masking tape
- Pipe cleaners and/or pom poms (for shooting)
How to make a DIY Confetti Popper for 4th of July
Below are step by step instructions to make a DIY confetti popper to celebrate the 4th of July fire-free. You can turn this into a fun preschooler engineering challenge by trying a few attempts at creating a confetti popper on your own before using the guide below.
1. Gather your supplies.
Most of what you need to make these fun confetti poppers you will have on hand already – especially if you have a preschooler in the house. The only note on the supply list above is that you won’t want to use small balloons (like 5-inch dart balloons) as they won’t fit well around the rim of the toilet paper tube.
You can use cut up paper, pom poms, wound up pipe cleaners, or other soft items as the materials to be launched.
2. Prepare your balloon
The balloon will be the mechanism that turns stored potential energy into moving kinetic energy.
To do so we will need to attach it to the TP tube. You will want to cut the top of the balloon off so you can do this. If you cut too small of a piece off you won’t be able to secure it on the toilet paper tube. If you cut too large of a hole you also won’t be able to secure it well. The goal is to have the balloon snug on the TP tube.
3. Wrap the balloon around the TP tube
This will create a diaphragm, or something similar to a trampoline. When we pull it back and release it we are pushing the contents of the tube out.
4. Secure the balloon
Use a strip of tape to secure the balloon to the toilet paper tube. You’re all done – it’s time to load it up with soft objects and test it out!
How your confetti popper works.
Potential energy is stored energy. As we pull the balloon back we are storing energy in it, as the balloon will want to be unstretched (this is a spring potential energy). Kinetic energy is the energy of motion of the pom poms flying out of the tube. Thus the balloon stores potential energy and then releases it by transferring that energy to moving the pom poms quickly.