Lets have some fun and build a smoke ring launcher also known as a vortex machine. With this neat science toy we can learn about the forces at work inside tornado's and hurricanes. Lets build a Make a Smoke Ring Launcher Vortex Machine
Toy manufacturers sell air blasters that send bursts of air whizzing across the room. My son Richie loves to sneak up on innocent victims and make their hair fly up into a ball as he zaps them with his Airzooka (first picture). In fact he has got the Airzooka down to such a science he can shoot a cup off of someone's head from 25 feet away.
In this science experiment we are going to build our own homemade Airzooka on steroids.
Materials - 5 Gallon Bucket or Standard Trash Can - Large Bungee Cord - Plastic Shower Curtain or Thick Plastic Sheeting - Duct Tape - Fog Machine and Fog Juice (about $25 at party store)
Watch Video: Make Smoke Ring Launcher Vortex Machine
Procedure Make Smoke Ring Launcher Vortex Machine
1) Flip the trash can upside down and cut out a 10 inch circular hole out of the bottom. I use a carpet knife for this, but no matter what you use be careful not to cut yourself. Trash cans work well because they already have a round area in the bottom which is perfect to cut out.
2) Place the plastic sheeting over the top of the trash can and flop it down over the side. Take some scissors and cut off the excess leaving about 8 to 10 inches overflowing down the sides all the way around.
3) Strap your bungee cord around the top of the can under the handles to secure your plastic sheeting in place.
4) Use the duct tape to go around the edge of where the sheeting meets the can. Make sure you have a nice tight drum like fit for the plastic sheeting over the trash can before you tape. Yeah pull that nice and tight!
5) Now plug in the fog machine and add some fog juice.
6) When its ready, fill the trash can with plenty of fog through the hole on the bottom.
7) Once full, pick up the can and point the hole at your target. Give the plastic sheet a gentle thump or whack.
8) Watch the vortex / smoke ring come sailing out.
9) Now try several thumps right after one another.
10) Reload with more fog as needed.
11) You can play some games as well. Set up the old plastic drinking cup pyramid and see who can knock it over from the furthest away. And don't forget its always fun to make peoples hair fly up when the get hit with the invisible vortex! Give it a try it harmless.
The Science Make Smoke Ring Launcher Vortex Machine The scientific name for our smoke ring launcher is a vortex generator. The ball of fog/air that shoots out is really a vortex. The vortex is created because the air leaving the trash can at the middle of the hole is going faster than air leaving around the edge of the hole. This science experiment illustrates that air occupies space. As you hit the rubber sheeting it pushes into the trash can. As a result, the volume inside the can decreases and pressure increases. That pressure increase pushes some of the air out of the hole in the bottom. The smaller the hole you cut, the greater the velocity the air/fog will come out when you strike it. It's the same concept as when you put your finger over the opening of garden hose. As you block the hose, the velocity of the water increases and it shoots harder and faster. If you take your finger off and make the hole bigger the velocity decreases and the water does not shoot out as fast or hard. Now get your buddies and Make a Smoke Ring Launcher Vortex Machine.