Pneumatics at Science Club

Pneumatics.
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Arrival Craft: Popagami animals.

These are a lot of fun. They are available in packs if various sizes. You can even download free templates online to have a go.
You fold a box with ears, and inflate it into a little animal head.
They’re very cute when complete. You can see a mouse, a leopard and a horse in the centre of the photo at the top of this page.
We used this to talk about the force of air and how though you can easily move your hand through air, if you put air under pressure it can push up the paper.

Introduction: Can you think of anything that is moved by the power of air? Most of the time air doesn’t seem very strong, we move through it without giving it much thought. But air does have some strength and that can be used in lots of different ways.

The first thing we’re going to look at is putting air under pressure and then releasing it suddenly, when we release the pressure and give the air a way out, it will rush out very fast.

If I inflate this balloon and then let go without tying the end, what will it do? What will happen if I attach the balloon to something else before I let go? We can use the rush of air to push something else along, not just the balloon. If I attach a balloon to a straw on a string, then the balloon will rush down the string.

 

Individual Task: Balloon cars use exactly the same principle, if we attach a balloon to a simple car model, we can make it move. Hand out bottle tops for wheels, blue tac, skewers and straws for axles, cardboard for car bodies, balloons for power, and lots of sellotape! All the children (some with parents’ help) can make balloon powered cars.
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Break for drink and snack.

 

Gather together: We can also use the power of air in a more controlled fashion, if, rather than letting the air escape, we use a contained system and keep the air trapped.

If I have two syringes attached to a length of tubing, air cannot get in or out. If I push one syringe, the air will push up the opposite syringe. Demonstrate. This is called pneumatics.

You don’t have to filled the syringes and tubing with air. You can fill them with liquid. If you do that, it’s called hydraulics. I’m going to use water though hydraulic machinery is more likely to use oil, to avoid rust. We’re going to set up one set of syringes full of air and one set full of water, and use them both to lift a small weight. Watch carefully and see if you can see any differences between them.

The water compresses less than the air, because water is a liquid and air is a gas, so the water set moves more quickly. Hydraulics are more likely to be used in heavy machinery.

 

Second Activity: We’re going to make biting monsters powered by pneumatics. Give out tech card pieces and instruction sheets, and card for decoration. All the children can make their own biting monster.
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