Confetti Launcher


  • 1

    Here are some of the materials you can use

    • duct tape
    • newspapers
    • 4 paint stirrers (found at paint supply or hardware stores)
    • paper confetti
    • 2 4-oz. paper cups
    • 2 8-oz. paper cups
    • 4 rubber bands
    • 2 sheets of cardboard (approx. 8.5 x 11 in. [22 x 28 cm]
    • 1 straw
    • string
    • 1 wooden spool
  • 2

    Prepare ahead of time

    • Have paper and pencil ready to write down ideas and sketches as you design.
    • Set up a testing zone. Lay newspapers on the floor. 
    • Mark a large X in the center.
  • 3

    Think about the challenge

    • What do these things have in common: rocket, water balloon, ship, shot put, javelin, torpedo, and satellite? (They are all things that are launched.) 
    • When do you think a confetti launcher might be used?
    • Who might want to launch confetti?
    • TIP: Inventors are always looking for ways to improve things or meet people’s needs—including celebrating! Celebrating special events is important to people and falling confetti makes these occasions or events more fun and exciting.
  • 4

    Think about and write down ideas

    • List some devices you know that launch objects into the air. Think beyond obvious things like a rocket. How about a sprinkler or a trampoline? 
    • List different ways a device can develop the force, or energy, it needs to launch an object into the air. 
    • What can you do to make your launch impressive or attention grabbing? 
    • TIP: Inventors’ and engineers’ first ideas rarely solve a problem. They brainstorm ideas, try different ideas, learn from mistakes, and try again—this is part of the design process
  • 5

    Look at the materials

    • What materials do you have to build different parts of your launcher?
    • What will you use to hold the confetti in place before launching? 
    • What will you use to develop the force your launcher needs to send your confetti flying?
    • TIP: There are lots of possibilities. Slingshots, catapults, and levers can all send confetti flying through the air.
  • 6

    Design and build the launcher

    • Decide whether your launcher will sit on the ground, on a table, or be hand held. 
    • Think about how will you create the force to launch the confetti.
    • Choose your materials and build the launcher.
    • TIP: A launcher changes stored (potential) energy into motion (kinetic) energy. The resulting force sends the confetti flying!
  • 7

    Design and build the confetti holder

    • Decide how your confetti will stay on the launcher until you send it into the air.
    • Choose the materials and build the holder.
    • Attach it to the launcher.
  • 8

    Load up the launcher

    • Measure out about 1 tablespoon of confetti and load the confetti into your holder.
    • Make sure the holder is securely attached to the launcher.
  • 9

    Aim the launcher at your target

    • Decide where you want to place your launcher.
    • Aim your launcher at the target.
  • 10

    Let it go

    • Release the force and send your confetti into the air.
    • Modify your launcher if it didn’t send the confetti flying. Then retest it.
    • TIP: If your confetti didn’t fly, try making the launch longer so you can apply more force.
    • TIP: To learn about an idea’s strengths and weaknesses, inventors build and test a series of early designs like your launcher. These are called prototypes.
  • 11

    Did you know?

    • Lots of Confetti 
      A big burst of falling bits of confetti makes almost anyone smile. Just imagine all the smiles at a New York City parade when 11 million pounds (5 million kg) of confetti fell out of the sky and showered the crowd of parade watchers! Eleven million pounds of confetti is the most confetti ever launched at a single event—and it’s equal to the combined weight of 110,000, 100-pound (45-kg) kids! Now that’s a lot of paper and a lot of smiles!
  • 12

    Try this next!

    • Launch all kinds of confetti. How could you change your launcher's design to launch other confetti-like objects such as streamers, mini-parachutes, fake money, dried flower petals, fake snow, and foam peanuts?
    • Design a confetti clean-up machine. You've just discovered that launched confetti is messy and not easy to clean up. Think about clean-up machines you know. Then design a vehicle made to clean up and collect confetti.
    • What are some ways to pick up huge amounts of paper bits at large events, such as a championship sporting event, convention, or a ticker-tape parade?
    • How could a collection vehicle use plows, vacuums, fans, leaf blowers, or balloons charged with static electricity?