Solar Power: Exploding Film Canisters, Centripetal Force, Solar Oven

By Patrick Ryan on Jun 18, 2015

These four scientific experiments have been adapted for students who are blind or visually impaired.  These activities were done with an afterschool group of elementary school students in the public schools:

 

Solar Oven

There are just some things that are synonymous with "summertime snacks," and we can't think of a summer snack we enjoy quite as much as s'mores. But what would you do if you weren't allowed to have a fire or just didn't have the tools necessary for a fire? We came up with a pretty neat way to harness the heat and energy of the sun to create a solar powered cooker that makes a delicious batch of s'mores without a fire!

Materials

  • Pizza box
  • Two clear sheet protectors
  • Black construction paper
  • Duct tape
  • Clear masking or packing tape
  • Box knife
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer (optional)
  • Wooden skewer
  • Glue stick (Elmer's glue will work, too)
  • Tin foil
  • Ruler
  • Pen

Film Canister Rockets

film canister rocket

When you have gas building-up in an enclosed space, what happens? Wait... don't answer that. More specifically, what happens when CO2 builds up in a closed film canister? Simple – an explosion so fun you won't want the popping to stop. You'll create a simple chemical reaction within the closed film canister. As it builds carbon dioxide gas, you'll feel yourself prepping for the big launch!

Materials

  • Water
  • Flat Fizzers
  • Film canister
  • Adult supervision
**Get all the materials you need with the Film Canister Explosions kit!**
 

Catapults

catapult made out of a spoon
Since city ordinances (among other things) won't allow us to build a full-scale Medieval catapult, we had to scale it down a bit. Despite the setbacks, we've come up with a pretty sweet, indoor-safe Desktop Catapult. And the best part is that everything you're going to need can be found right in your home. The Desktop Catapult makes for a fun way to explore the properties of physics and motion.

Materials

  • Staple remover
  • Solid, flat base (we found that a 3-ring binder works great)
  • Plastic spoon
  • Hot glue gun or tape
  • Catapult-able objects

Adapted from:  http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/desktop-catapult-sick-science

centripetal board
When you swing a bucket of water over your head, you probably expect a big, wet rush of water to soak you as the bucket goes upside down. However, if you were swinging the bucket fast enough, nothing happens. What in the world?!? Well, we have a pretty incredible physics demonstration to help you understand just why you remain dry. It's called the Centripetal Force Board, and it will help you experience the physics and forces at play when three plastic cups of water leave you high, dry, and with new hands-on science topics in mind.

Materials

  • Rope
  • Water
  • Three plastic cups
  • Thin square board
  • Square sheet of rubber
  • Adult supervision

Adapted from:  http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/centripetal-force-board

 

accessible science experiments collage

Read more about: Science, Physical Science, STEM