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By Audra D.

Winter is the perfect time for a snowball fight, but some days it is just too cold to be outside. These indoor “snowball” shooters can be made with household items and will provide all the fun of a traditional snowball fight while letting you stay warm. Make one for every member of the family, and let the snowballs fly! Be sure to talk together about the science behind why this experiment works, and don’t be afraid to explore.

Materials needed

  • Toilet paper tube 
  • Balloon 
  • Pompoms, small cotton balls, styrofoam balls, wadded paper towels, etc. (to be used for snowballs)  
  • Scissors
  • Markers and other decorating materials

Instructions

  1. Start with decorating your toilet paper roll! It could be a snowman, your favorite book character, or anything else you imagine.
  2. Tie a knot in the neck of the balloon (the end you would use to blow it up).
  3. Carefully cut the tip off the other end of the balloon.
  4. Stretch the hole you cut in the balloon over the top of your toilet paper roll.
  5. Hold the tube upside down, and drop your snowball in. Then, aim at your target, pull back the balloon, and watch your snowball fly!

Note: If your balloon slips off your shooter, you may be pulling too hard. Try taping or gluing the balloon on the tube to secure it.

    Questions to ask

    • What happens if you pull the balloon while still holding the tube upside down? Will the snowball fly straight up?
    • Which type of snowball goes the furthest distance? Why do you think this is? 
    • What else can you use as a snowball with your shooter? Try small objects from around the house to find out! Which object goes the furthest? 

    How it works

    A lot of physics concepts apply to your snowball shooter. Physics is a branch of science that helps us understand matter, energy, and motion. Way back in 1687, Sir Issac Newton published his famous three laws of motion.

    1. An object at rest will stay at rest. Your snowball stays in the shooter until you pull back the balloon and let go. When you do this, you are applying a force to make the snowball shoot.
    2. Force equals mass times acceleration. This means heavier objects (things that have more mass) take more force to make them move.
    3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  When you pull the balloon back to shoot the snowball, the force pushing the ball out of the tube equals the force pushing the ball back.

    Your snowball shooter demonstrates all three laws of motion. What else can you apply them to?

    Audra D.
    Adult & Teen Librarian

    Audra D.


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