Ready for a little Valentine themed STEM learning? Check out below with background on how to make a chocolate launching catapult! We had so much fun making, playing, and eating with this catapult! The best part was making targets with a point system. We all love a little competition, right? Yes, we even tallied the scores. This Valentine activity is loads of fun for your home and your classroom (if you dare!).
How to Make a Catapult with Kids
Supplies Needed for this Catapult Activity
- Ten craft sticks
- Fifteen standard sized rubber bands
- One thick/wide sized rubber band
- One spoon
- Chocolate morsels
Steps to Making the Catapult
- Ask the child if she knows about this mechanism. Show her pictures and ask for the purpose of catapults.
- Explain that it 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 (thank you, Sarah, at Frugal Fun for Boys).
- Then we gathered our materials
- Then we watch this 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?
- After making mistakes (part of the process), we ate a few chocolate morsels to make ourselves feel better
- We watched the video again!
- Made adjustments and launched more chocolate
- Tested our catapult and celebrated successes with eating more chocolate
- We had fun and played with the catapult by hitting random targets
Experiment Further with Catapults
- Change the weight of the object (use pom poms, ping pong balls, candy, etc)
- Change the angles; compare how angle impacts the force and precision of the launch
- Use different materials in building
- Aim for targets; when is it most precise in hitting the same target again and again with the same object?
- Record observations
- Design and build your own challenge using different materials
- Tons of AMAZING catapult activity ideas
Science Behind Catapults
Perhaps the perfect STEM activity to introduce concepts such as force, angle, motion, precision, projectile, and accuracy (to name a few keywords). The optimal angle – a three-sided polygon – for launching is 45 degrees. For young children, simply the hands' act of building 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
Thanks for stopping by!