Xtreme STEM
DashX

Cannon Lab - Senior

Introduction

Cannons are a great way to learn about Newton's Laws of Motion!

  1. Inertia
  2. Force
  3. Reaction

You are going to change the follow independent variable, and observe what happens to the motion of the cannon and the cannon ball:

  • Fuel amount
  • Air amount
  • Mix time
  • Chamber vs barrel length
  • Angle
  • Ball mass

Hints:

  • You need a good air-fuel mixture
    (You can increase the air in the mixture by blowing into the hole with a straw)
  • You will need the alcohol to evaporate (it is the vapor that will explode - not the liquid)
  • You need to choose a balance between how much room you leave for the fuel and barrel length
    (how far you push the ball into the pipe)

SAFETY

Eye Eye protection must be worn

Hair Long hair must be tied back

Gloves Leather gloves must be worn when lighting the cannon

Eyes NEVER look in the barrel of the cannon when it has a ball in it

Author	Daniel Catt NEVER point the cannon at anyone

1) Cannon Launch

Challenge

Can you make the cannon fire?

cannon

 

 

Procedure

Prepare (Inside)

  1. Place the end cap on the end of your pipe with a small hole in it
  2. Tape the end cap on
  3. Squirt 10 pumps of Ethanol mist into the cannon
  4. Roll the cannon to spread the fuel around
  5. Blow in the big end for 10 seconds
  6. Keep rolling and waiting for fuel to evaporate for about 30-60 seconds
  7. Place the tennis ball into the cannon
  8. Measure on the push-rod how far you want to push the ball in (50-75cm)
  9. Push the ball into the cannon
  10. Roll cannon on its side for another 30 seconds
  11. Blow extra air into the small hole with the air compressor

Fire! (Outside)

  1. Place cannon on ground
  2. Turn it so the hole is on the side (not top)
  3. Raise the firing end of the cannon using a bottle
    cannon
  4. Place a glove on the hand you are going to fire the cannon with
  5. Make sure no-one is in the way
  6. Yell, "FIRING in 3,2,1"
  7. Light the lighter, bring the flame close to the hole
  8. Write down everything you did in the table below
  9. Try again!
  10. Keep trying until you get the ball to fire at least 10m

 

 

Squirts of Fuel Ball Depth (cm) Distance Fired (m)
10    
10    
10    
10    
10    
10    
10    
10    

 

 

2) Inertia

Challenge

Which will go further a heavy or light cannon ball?

 

Hints

Once you have figured out how to make the cannon work well, it is time to experiment with Inertia.

"A cannon ball in motion will remain in motion!"

 

Procedure

Keep everything the same for the next two tests, except the mass of the ball

  1. Predict which will go further (and why) a light ball or a heavy one?
  2. Fire a normal tennis ball
  3. Measure its distance
  4. Fire a heavy tennis ball
  5. Measure its distance

 

Cannon Ball Type

Distance (m)
Normal  
Heavy  

 

 

Questions

Which went further?

Which has more inertia?

3) Reaction

Challenge

Can you predict which way the cannon and cannon ball will go?

 

Hint

Newton's third law tells us "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"

 

cannon

 

Procedure Double Ended Cannon

  1. Predict which will go further (and why) a light ball or a heavy one?
  2. Predict what will happen to the cannon (will it move, which way?)
  3. Remove the tape and Remove the end cap
  4. Load a normal tennis ball into one end
  5. Push it in about 30cm (Don't push it in too far)
  6. Spray ethenol in the other end
  7. Try to keep the cannon flat (horizontal)
  8. Roll the cannon to spread the fuel around
  9. Blow in the big end for 10 seconds
  10. Keep rolling and waiting for fuel to evaporate for about 30-60 seconds
  11. Place a heavy tennis ball in the opposite end of the cannon
  12. Push it in about 30cm (Don't push it in too far)
  13. Roll cannon on its side for another 30 seconds
  14. Blow extra air into the small hole with the air compressor
  15. Place the cannon on the ground (on top of two bottles so it lays flat)
  16. Predict which way the cannon will move, and which ball will go futher
  17. Yell, "Firing in 3,2,1"
  18. Light the hole in the middle!
Scroll to Top