Hands-on Activity: Fun with Air-Powered Pneumatics
Educational Standards :
Pre-Req Knowledge (Return to Contents)
Familiarity with metric measurement, creating data tables and graphs.
Learning Objectives (Return to Contents)
After this activity, students should be able to:
Materials List (Return to Contents)
Each group needs:
To share with the entire class:
For the extension activity, each group needs:
Introduction/Motivation (Return to Contents)
What do home construction, dentistry and organ playing have in common? (Don't expect a "correct" answer; we are just trying to get students thinking.)
What kinds of tools are used in constructing a home? What do you hear when dental tools start and stop? What creates the powerful sound in a pipe organ? (Now we are trying to get students to recognize that these are all examples of using air power).
Can you think of some other examples of how we use air power? (Possible answers: Air brakes on buses, trucks and trains; air compressors; air soft/BB guns; Nerf guns; jackhammer; nail gun; robots; etc.) All of these are examples of air power, called pneumatics. Pneumatics is the use of pressurized gas to control mechanical motion.
Today we are going to act as teams of engineers using pneumatics to design and build a ball launcher.
Vocabulary/Definitions (Return to Contents)
Procedure (Return to Contents)
We suggest that the teacher create and familiarize him/herself with the components and the system in advance of conducting the activity with the students. Refer to the Pneumatics Lab Set-Up Photos attachment, which contains larger versions of Figures 1-3.
Before the Activity
With the Students
Attachments (Return to Contents)
Safety Issues (Return to Contents)
Troubleshooting Tips (Return to Contents)
To avoid leakage, securely insert tubing into the collet.
The switch has a right and a wrong way; make sure it is inserted according to arrows on the switch.
To stabilize the launcher, use washers on both sides of the plastic cap.
Investigating Questions (Return to Contents)
Assessment (Return to Contents)
Prediction: Ask students to predict the relationship between air pressure of the system and the height of the tennis ball after launched.
Activity Embedded Assessment
Engineering: Students should be able to demonstrate correctly-functioning pneumatic systems.
Extrapolation: Using the graph created from their data, have students predict the height that could be achieved by 75 psi.
Activity Extensions (Return to Contents)
Discuss the engineering design process with students. The steps of the design process include: 1) define the problem, 2) come up with ideas [brainstorming], 3) select the most promising design, 4) communicate and plan the design, 5) create and test the design, and 6) evaluate and revise the design.
Have students use the extension materials to modify their original systems to not only launch a ball, but catch it as well. Have them follow the steps of the engineering design process to help them accomplish this task.
Activity Scaling (Return to Contents)
ContributorsWill Durfee, Alyssa Burger, Jacob Givand, Jeffrey Schreifels, and Melissa Schreifels
Copyright© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2009 University of Minnesota
Supporting Program (Return to Contents)Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power RET and ERC, University of Minnesota
Acknowledgements (Return to Contents)
The authors gained experience and knowledge through an RET (Research Experience for Teachers) position at the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power at the University of Minnesota. The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under National Science Foundation grant no. EEC 0540834. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.