Make a Vortex Blaster
In this science experiment, kids make and experiment with a device that produces an air vortex.
The blast coming out of your contraption is a “vortex” – a spinning, whirling mass of air. (You can also create a vortex in water by simply stirring water in a bowl in a circular direction. Or you can observe the vortex in your toilet!) In the air blaster, the vortex is created when the air traveling through the center of the hole moves faster than the air around the edges of the hole, causing the blast of air to spin. This is easy to see when smoke is added.
- Plastic bucket (any size)
- Vinyl shower curtain, very thick trash bag or similar -- large enough to cover the mouth of your bucket
- Elastic, bungee cord, or duct tape
- Smoke machine or dry ice
ADULT ASSISTANCE REQUIRED: Cut a hole in the center bottom of the bucket that is about 1/3 of the size of the entire bottom. This should be done by an adult. The hole should be as close to round as possible. Depending on how thick your bucket is, you can do this with a knife, scissors or drill. We've also had success using a hammer and screwdriver to punch out the plastic.
Cut out a circle from the thick plastic shower curtain (or similar) that is about 5 inches wider all around than the opening of the top of the bucket.
Wrap the plastic around the top of the bucket, making sure to pull it as tight as possible, then secure with elastic or duct tape. Trim any excess plastic.
Aim your blaster with the small hole facing forward. Use the palm of your hand to tap the plastic. A blast of spinning air will come out of the hole!
Try setting up lightweight things to knock over (like paper cups), or pinwheels to make spin. Try blowing each other's hair back!
If you have access to a smoke machine, fill the bucket with smoke through the punched out hole, then aim and tap – you will see a spinning ring of smoke!
You can also make smoke by VERY CAREFULLY combining small chunks of dry ice and warm water inside the blaster. But this requires ADULT SUPERVISION as dry ice can cause chemical burns if it touches your skin.
You can make a blaster as big or small as you’d like as long as the shape remains the same – it can be as large as a trash can, or as small as a plastic cup! The dimensions and principles are the same – only the blast of air will be different.