An n-week long project to build a pneumatic computer controlled potato canon as an introduction to physics, electricity, circuits and coding. This is geared toward middle school aged students. I am not a teacher and this is my first attempt at something like this.
Read about this project at http://bitbyteyum.com.
The Project – Spudnik
I needed to find a project that would be interesting to middle school boys, so I gravitated toward explosions or projectiles.
I’ve settled on a progressive buildout of a pneumatic potato gun. Each section we will read, discuss and hopefully build an experiment to explore the concepts.
- Refresher on the Scientific Method – Question, Hypothesis, Prediction, Testing.
- Physics of Compressed Air – Pressure, how does that potato fly so far?
- Basic Electronics – Series and Parallel circuits . Building a solenoid based (Electromagnet triggering mechanism.
- Gravity and Trajectory – Will this potato hit that house over there? Understanding gravity and calculating trajectory.
- Programming – Introduce basic programming concepts and build a trajectory calculation application.
- Sensing and Circuits – Connect a digital pressure sensor and accelerometer to get quantitative values to improve trajectory prediction.
- Programming With Hardware – Connect the pressure and orientation sensors to an arduino and use the live data to determine the spud's flight time and distance.
- Motorized Tripod – If we still have time after we cover all the topics above we can combine everything we've learned to build a two axis motorized tripod that allows for pitch and yaw control. It would be arduino controlled and allow precise targeting and firing control.