A New Year’s Eve celebration isn’t complete without confetti! This easy-to-engineer confetti cannon is sure to make your countdown one to remember.

Applying some simple physics principles, this project gets kids thinking about what air does when it moves, relative to its speed. 

You will need:

  • 100 mL automotive syringe (easily found online)
  • Construction paper or craft paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Confetti (either handmade or store bought)

Step One:

Those automotive syringes aren’t the prettiest, so take a little time to decorate them in order to make them more festive.

Time to get it ready for the NYE celebration!

Step 2:

Cut out two squares out of construction paper, about the size of a sticky note. (Or if you have a sticky note near by, you can use that, too).

Fold the squares into triangles.

Step 3:

Fashion the triangle into a funnel. Use the tape to secure it all together. The opening at the end of the funnel should be just large enough for the tubing.

Step 4:

Slip the funnel into the tubing and also tape the ends. Make sure it is airtight. This is important!

Step 5:

Pull the plunger back. Fill the funnel with confetti.

Keeping the funnel upright, push the plunger in fast and watch the confetti fly!

The Science Behind It:

Sometimes its difficult to think about air because it is invisible. But within the chamber of the syringe, there was air. Forcing it out fast caused the light confetti to blast out of the other end. Would the confetti cannon work as well if you slowly pushed the plunger?

A confetti cannon is an example of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for ever action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The faster we pushed the syringe, the higher the confetti flew. The tube also kept the air concentrated, all the more reason to make sure that tape was airtight. (Now go grab that broom – you’ll need to sweep up all the scientific fun!)

Here’s to a great 2020!

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