The Great Marshmallow Launch


Created by: cindyhepp

Grade Level: 4-5

Activity Category: Simple & Compound Machines

Resource Category: Hands-On Activities/Labs

Activity Description: After students learn about simple machines, compound machines, forces, calculating work, etc. I required each to achieve a few different “I can” objectives before earning a ticket to “The Great Marshmallow Launch” activity. Prior to this activity, students also completed a simple popsicle stick catapullt by following written and illustrated instructions. This gave them the opportunity to see how a catapult worked, write a hypothesis, and investigate how the distance between the load and the fulcrum affected potential energy.

I can name the six simple machines.
I can identify at least 3 real life examples of each simple machine.
I can calculate the amount of work done when both force and distance are able to be determined.
I can determine the following places on a lever: load/resistance, force/effort, and fulcrum.
I can explain how potential energy is affected

After earning a ticket to particiapte, each student paired with another to design a marshmallow launcher that would catapult the marshmallow the greatest distance, using only the materials provided.

Time required to do activity:
More than one hour

Time required to set up:
15-30 minutes

Time required to clean up:
15-30 minutes

Space needs:
We used the floor, and cleared obstructions for about 20 feet. This was plenty of room.

Cost per class of 25 students:
$10. Many items are available from school supplies, and the few that need to be purchased are minimal $.

Items needed and where to get them:
1 Bag of Large or Jumbo Marshmallows -Gallon-sized ZipLock bags -1 package of 3 x 5 index cards -Craft sticks -1 bag of various sized rubber bands -coffee stirrers -1 package of straws -Box of plastic spoons -Skein of yarn -Glue bottles -masking tape -graph paper

Each student will need to provide a glue stick, ruler and scissors. To make things easier, I assemble their investigations bags ahead of time. I make one bag for each group of 3 students.
at the Marshmallow Launcher Directives to see how much of each material I put in one bag.

Activity Instructions:
Complete instructions are avaiable from,. I purchased this unit from her on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Standards Type: Local Standards

Standards Explained:
2a Identify a design problem and propose possible solutions.
2b Develop a plan, design and procedure to address the problem identifying constraints (e.g., time, materials, technology).
Build a prototype of the design using available tools and materials.
Test the prototype using suitable instruments, techniques and quantitative measure-ments to record data
Assess test results and the effective┬Čness of the design using given criteria and noting possible sources of error.
2f Report test design, test process and test results.

Class Management and Safety Issues:
Small groups of 2 or 3
safety goggles while launching

Tags: catapult, simple machines, compound machines, levers, marshmallow launcher

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