gator science

active adventures in lower school science

Design, Build, and Test a Homemade Catapult

on November 8, 2014

Fifth Grade students were given a limited supply of materials to build a homemade catapult that could launch a cotton ball across the room.  Students spent time designing their model and drawing sketches of their ideas.  They built their models and tested them in the classroom.  Students found their mistakes and failure helped them revise and improve their final design at the end of class.

The two students who launched the farthest cotton ball for the day had some interesting observations.

“We did not even know what we were doing.  We were just fooling around and suddenly the cotton ball flew across the room!”

This “fooling around” they described is in fact the process of trial and error that is so important in developing good designs for science and engineering.    At the end of the class students realized that it was both tension and the angle chosen that determined how well the catapult worked.   What a great day for Engineering!

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One response to “Design, Build, and Test a Homemade Catapult

  1. Marian Roche says:

    Some day these students will look back fondly on their experience in Mr. delDuca’s Science class and appreciate how fortunate they are. What they are doing in your class sets the foundation for the explorations they’ll be doing when presented with new technologies and challenges that we can’t even imagine in today’s world. Go 5th Grade Scientists!

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