Follow these instructions to make your own ping pong launcher for family fun at home!
Forget toy guns and expensive shooting gadgets, there's nothing quite like using science to try and create your own ping pong ball launcher. As well as being cheap and easy to make, this ping pong ball launcher is sure to keep your children entertained for ages, as they learn how far they can launch the ball.
For science-mad children or budding STEM scientists, this is also a great design activity that can help them learn about the transfer of energy. If you're homeschooling, you could try setting this as a launcher project. Talk about what makes the ping pong ball move through the air and explore ideas like whether changing the design would change how far the ping pong balls travel and why.
How To Make Your Ping Pong Launcher
You Will Need:
An empty plastic bottle
A pair of sharp scissors
Two elastic bands
A large bead (make sure it's one with a hole in the middle)
A nail (to poke a hole in the bottle lid)
A ping pong ball – your device won't be much good without one of these!
1. Cut off the end of the bottle.
2. Next, make four cuts in each side of the four sides of the bottle.
3. Attach the elastic bands to the four cuts so that they make an 'X' shape across the bottle.
4. Carefully, use the nail and Blu-Tack to make a small hole in the lid of the bottle (definitely a job for the parents!).
5. Next, tie a length of string to the point where the two elastic bands meet and feed the string through the bottle and out through the hole in the lid.
6. Tie a bead to the end of the string.
7. Next, simply pop a ping pong ball on the launch at the point where the elastic bands meet. Now your ping pong ball launcher is ready to go. Pull the bead so the string goes taut. When you let go, the ping pong ball will soar through the air!
What To Do Next
We had a go at making this before we wrote this guide, and what surprised us, apart from how easy it is to make this device, is just how much fun we had with it once we'd made it. Hours of laughter followed and the children kept going back to pick it up and play with it the next day.
-This clever device is lots of fun for family members of all ages. You could try taking it into the garden to use it but it's also suitable for use indoors as it doesn't tend to fire with too much force, so no need to worry about anyone taking out an eye or smashing a window!
-There are lots of fun games and activities you can play with your launcher. You could try getting siblings or family members to have a go at making one each. Next, engage in a family battle.
-Why not try turning this into a science lesson? Ask your children to predict what's going to happen next before you test it out for the first time. What's going to happen to the ball? Or, see if they can guess what sort of distance the ball might travel.
-You could also use this as an opportunity to talk to your children about potential energy. Ask them why you need the bead for this work, and what purpose the elastic bands serve when you pull back on the string.
-The next time your children declare themselves to be bored, you could supply them with the items above and set them a challenge to make their own ping pong launcher. The instructions are simple enough that children should be able to get involved in making this device without needing an adult to do it all for them.
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