How to Build a Tennis Ball Launcher

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Science can be incredibly fun. Learning about rockets and how they work is fascinating stuff. Being able to learn by doing is even more rewarding and can teach a young person the basics of science through hands on experimenting. Rocket science is one such field that benefits from a hands on approach. This article will teach you about how to build a fundamental rocket device by building a tennis ball launcher.

Things You'll Need

  • 6 cans the same size diameter as a tennis ball (unopened food cans work the best)
  • Lighter Fuel; Squeezable (like those used for a BBQ)
  • Electrical Tape
  • Can Opener (the ones used to open fruit juice cans)
  • Hacksaw
  • Matches
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Electric or Handheld Crank Can Opener
  • Ruler

Building a Tennis Ball Launcher

  • Using the electric or crank can opener remove the tops and bottoms from five cans and clean them out very well.

  • Using your can opener that you used to open the juice make 8 triangles around the top (or bottom) of your fifth can and make sure to clean it out very well.

  • Measure 1/4" from the bottom of the fifth can and hammer the nail into the can to punch a hole through it.

  • Tape all of your cans together making sure that the can with the punched hole is at the bottom with the hole closest to the end.

  • Place a tennis ball into the top of the launcher.

  • Place the spout of the lighter fuel at the hole in the bottom of the launcher and squeeze fuel into the tube.

  • Use your mouth and blow into the hole to vaporize the fuel.

  • Light a match and place the flame at the at hole to ignite.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure your tape is secure and your cans straight.
  • Never use too much lighter fuel.
  • The more you add air into the hole the more combustible the launcher will be.
  • Keep practicing.
  • When working with flammables always wear goggles.
  • Do not attempt without parental supervision if under the age of 18.

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