How to Build a Tennis Ball Launcher


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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