Ready for a little Valentine themed STEM learning? Check out below with background on how to build a chocolate launching catapult! We had so much fun making, playing, and eating with this catapult! We made targets with a point system. We tallied scores. This Valentine activity is loads of fun for your home and your classroom (if you dare!).
How to Build a Catapult
Supplies Needed to Build a Catapult
- Ten craft sticks
- Fifteen standard sized rubber bands
- One thick/wide sized rubber band
- One spoon
- Chocolate morsels
Steps to Building a Catapult
- Ask the child if she knows about catapults. Show her pictures and ask the purpose of catapults.
- Explain that a catapult is an engineered machine that launches a projectile, or an object that is launched into the air (typically) by force.
- First, we watched this Youtube video on how to build a catapult (thank you Sarah at Frugal Fun for Boys).
- Then we gathered our materials
- Then we watch the how to build a catapult video again (ha!)
- We tested our catapult by launching chocolate morsels and talked about accuracy and precision. How accurate is the catapult in hitting a target? How precise is it in hitting the target multiple times?
- We made mistakes and ate a few chocolate morsels to make ourselves feel better
- We watched the video again!
- We made adjustments and launched more chocolate
- We tested our catapult and celebrated successes with eating more chocolate
- We had fun and played with the catapult by hitting random targets
- Change the weight of the object (use pom poms, ping pong balls, candy, etc)
- Change the angles of the catapult; compare how angle impacts the force and precision of the launch
- Use different materials to build your catapult
- Aim for targets; when is the catapult most precise in hitting the same target again and again with the same object?
- Record observations
- Design and build your own catapult challenge using different materials
Science Behind Catapults
Catapults are the perfect STEM activity to introduce concepts such as force, angle, motion, precision, projectile, and accuracy (to name a few key words). The optimal angle – a three sided polygon – for launching a catapult is 45 degrees. For young children, simply the hands act of building the catapult and basic introductions to terms is enough. For older children, the learning behind the project gets much more detailed. Montessori Printshop offers a wonderful set of early childhood simple machine cards with concepts such as load, fulcrum, plane, effort, force using every day objects to describe the concept!
- Montessori Printshop offers a comprehensive overview of simple machines
- Loads of catapult ideas and activities from Sarah at Frugal Fun for Boys
- Build with K'Nex
- Children's Books about Simple Machines
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