This fun STEM activity is a great addition to the Rocky Railway VBS group theme. Since the tagline for this theme is “Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through”, this cotton ball blaster fits in perfectly. Jesus’ powers us with the Holy Spirit and the cotton balls can be painted to look like the flames of the Holy Spirit.
Enjoy this 4s video of a completed Holy Spirit blaster in action. It can really shoot!
Making it a Meaningful VBS Activity:
Several approaches can be done to weave this blaster into your VBS curriculum.
- Explain that the cotton balls will be the Holy Spirit. The cotton balles need to be painted flame colors since fire is a powerful symbol of the Holy Spirit.
- Explain how the Holy Spirit is the power of Jesus. It calls us to action to do good deeds. Give an example in your own life as to how the Holy Spirit has guided you.
- Ask upper elementary kids to write a particular gift of the Holy Spirit on the blaster or write that particular days’ Bible point on the Blaster.
Imagination Station or Extended Stay Activity?
Even though you could use this activity as a substitute Imagination Station activity, I believe it works best as an extended stay activity. The activity can easily fill 45 min of fun, epecially if you add some measurement investigation as explained in the 3M activity. Why not have a contest to see who can launch the Holy Spirit the farthest?
- 2 toilet paper tubes
- 2 thin rubber bands
- 1 small pencil
- cotton ball
- markers-especially yellow and red ones
The supplies are cheap. The blaster is made out of 2 toilet paper tubes and 2 thin rubber bands. If you do not have time to ask church members to collect and drop off toilet paper tubes, they can be bought at Hobby Lobby. The short pencils often can be grabbed from used pencil bins. Otherwise short “golf” pencils can be bought at an office supply store.
Full Directions With Pictures:
Some other good resources exist for this activity. Scientific American article has the best sketch of the finished product, the Science Buddies post has a great video of the steps, and the 3M STEM activity does a good job at explaining the physics and the use of engineering principals in testing the blaster.
Prep of Materials:
Prep needed for Ages 6-8:
For lower elementary, I recommend prepping the inner tube component for several reasons. The individual steps are just too difficult for them to follow n a group setting. They developmentally do not have enough fine motor skills to tape the tube securely and to punch the holes at the right spots. See Picture 2 for a completed inner tube.
Fir 1st graders, I would also go as far as marking the outer toilet paper tube with a Sharpie to show where the 4 slits are to be cut. See Picture 3 for the position of one set of slits. An identical set is to be marked on the far side, too.
Tip: Enlist some volunteers to help with this prep. Teens are often great ones to ask.
Prep needed for Ages 9-12:
For upper elementary, the students should be able to follow along and make the Holy Spirit Blaster on their own without the need to prep any of the toilet paper tubes. Make sure to have available completed blasters to demo and for them to look at during their construction steps. If you are lucky enough to have teen helpers, then make sure they get to make their own blaster during VBS training. Then they will be able to jump in and help with particular steps as needed.
Bag it as a Home Kit for Virtual VBS:
This activity works well for bagging as a pick-up kit for virtual VBS. For this situation, I would recommend completely prepping the inner tube (see Picture 4 for kit components). Some kids may not be able to locate a paper hole punch at home. The only additional supplies needed from home are a scissors, tape and markers (see Picture 5).
Other Rocky Railway VBS Alternative Activties
For more alternative Rocky Railway VBS activities please see these posts: