Here’s a really simple project that’ll allow kids to mess around with all kinds of STEMy concepts, hone things like visual tracking skills, and–most importantly–make things fly across the rooms. Nothing says DIY fun like projectiles.
Here’s a couple quick clips of these launchers in action. Below them, you’ll find the DIY process.
To make straw launchers, you’ll need:
- Plastic straws
- Scotch tape
- Paper (copy paper, card stock, and construction paper all work well)
You may also want to have some:
- Crayons or markers
- Yarn or string
The straw serves as your launcher and doesn’t need any modification. The DIY part of this project all revolves around creating projectiles. Here’s the process:
Cut To Size
Snip pieces of paper into roughly 2 inch by 3 inch rectangles. It’s no big deal if they are not exactly that size.
Next, you can decorate the bits of paper if you like. This step is optional.
Roll It Up
Now, it’s time to roll the bits of paper into cylinders slightly larger than the outside diameter of your straw. You want the cylinders to slip easily on and off the end of the straw. Remember too tight, no flight.
In our prototypes, we found that wrapping the paper around an object slightly wider than the straw worked well. For example, we used pencils and crayons. Straws vary in size, so you’ll have to do some experimenting.
As you can see in the photos below, you want to wrap the narrow end of the paper so the long end slips over the straw.
After you’ve got it wrapped just right, secure it with a bit of scotch tape.
Next, fold over one end and add another hunk of tape to seal it.
Add A Tail
If you want to get fancy, you can tape a tail made of bits of yarn or string to the projectile. This is optional, but does add a bit of projectile pizzazz.
How To Launch
It’s pretty simple. Slip a projectile onto one end of the straw, seal your lips around the other end of the straw, take aim, and blow.
If the projectile doesn’t sail off the end of the straw one of these is probably the reason why:
- You didn’t blow hard enough.
- Your projectile is too tight.
- Your projectile’s tip is leaking air.
- Make lots of projectiles. More than you think you’ll need. They’ll get lost, stepped on, and eaten by helpful dogs. Plus, who wants to walk across the room between every launch?
- Try bendy straws.
- Try using plastic tubing instead of straws.
- Use a plastic tote, hula-hoop, or laundry basket as a target.
- Graph how far or high you can launch a projectile.
- See how many launches you can complete in 60 seconds.
This project is a delightful opportunity for kids to have a good time while building a variety of skills. If you give it a try, we’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below.