Catapult building instructions


Created by: cindyhepp

Activity Category: Simple & Compound Machines

Resource Category: Additional Resources

Grade Level: 4-5

Type of Resource: Website

Additional Resource Description:
This page includes a pdf file of instructions for creating a simple catapult out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and plastic spoons. Though simple, it works great! I incorporated this into a work and machines unit for my fourth grade students. Students worked in small groups to follow instructions and build the catapult. Then each group shot three marshmallows, recording the distance each time. Each group found the average distance, compiled their data with the other groups, and created a graph to show the results. The next step was to add an extension stick, making the lever arm of the catapult longer. Prior to testing it, each student wrote a hypothesis about how the distance of the force/effort from the fulcrum would affect the potential energy of the catapult. They then followed the same steps, shooting three times, measuring and recording data, averaging, combining with other groups, and illustrating with a bar graph. Students ended the activity by forming a conclusion about the distance from fulcrum to force as it relates to levers.

Website Address (if applicable):

Standards Type: Local Standards

Standards Explained:
Collect data for investigations using scientific process skills including observing, estimating and measuring.
Construct charts and visualizations to display data.
Use data to produce reasonable explanations
Report and display the results of individual and group investigations.

Class Management and Safety Issues:
Students worked in groups of 3. The catapult instructions have 6 steps. Each student completed 2 steps of the construction, and each student got to shoot the catapult one time for the recorded data. All students averaged their distances and compared for accuracy. Students wore safety goggles, though that was probably overly cautious.

Tags: simple machines, levers, compound machines, work, force, machines, catapult, engineering

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