Get Your Science On: Vortex Canon

This week, Rachel shows us how to make a vortex canon. The simple device shoots rings of air, and it can be made any size from tiny to gigantic!

How to Build It

First thing you need is a large diameter cylinder, such as an office waste bin with a hole cut in the bottom. We’ve found that we have the best luck cutting the circular hole around 1/3 to 2/3 the dimeter of the cylinder, but please experiment to find the best size for your particular vortex canon. Finally, we put a piece of stretchy fabric over the other end of the cylinder similar to a drum: we have used latex sheeting, large balloons, and pond liners. Secure this with tape, hose clamps, or whatever you can find!

What’s Going On

The air travels in a vortex, a spinning doughnut of air. It’s like a little tornado that has wrapped around in a circle. Air in a vortex travels a significant distance in a straight line, so you can make individual pieces of yarn move. We filled our vortex canon with fog from a smoke machine, to see the vortex move!