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Activity

Air cannon (with dry ice)

Summary: 
Make a fast-moving vortex of gas emerge from a box with a hole. Adding dry ice to the box makes the vortex visible.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Physics: Motion and Forces, Newton’s Laws, Gravity (K, 2, 6)
Science topic (2005 curriculum connection): 
Physical Science: Force and Motion (grade 1)
Physical Science: Forces and Simple Machines (grade 5)
Lessons activity is in: 
Materials: 
  • cardboard box
  • scissors and tape
  • plastic bag
  • dry ice and gloves to handle
  • warm water
  • container to hold the dry ice that will fit in the bos
    Procedure: 

    Construct the cannon:
    Cut a hole on one side of the box (works best if this is about half the diameter of the box).
    Cut part of the other side of the box out, and tape a plastic bag over it, so it is a little flexible.
    Add a handle to the plastic with tape, so that it can be pulled back and forth.

    Add the container of warm water and dry ice to the box.
    Once the box fills with dry ice gas, draw back the plastic then move it forwards quickly.
    A vortex of gas should emerge from the hole (best seen against a dark background).

    Scaled down, individuals can each make their own vortex.

    Notes: 

    http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/airblasters.html

    With no dry ice in the box, a vortex of air is still made, which will travel to move light objects on the other side of the room.

    Grades tested: 
    Gr 4
    Teacher: 
    Ingrid
    Teaching site: 
    ingridscience afterschool