There’s just something about fall and catapults…. Both 8th Grade and 4th Grade students built catapults (or less formal launchers) as part of their science classes. As punkin’ chunkin’ devices can be found at most farms this time of year, it was time for our students to try their engineering hands at building their own.
Grade 8 science students have been building catapults to launch various projectiles. After researching and building prototypes, students designed and built catapults with the goal of launching different-sized balls and, ultimately, a pumpkin as far as possible. They discussed projectile motion, trajectory, launch angle, and the forces involved in hurling objects through the air. They collected initial data, graphed, and tried the catapults out this week with tennis balls, lacrosse balls, and playground balls. The pumpkin launches happened this week….
The Fourth Grade students have also been working on their own punkin’ chunkin’ devices, but their work was completed outside of school. The assignment guidelines indicated that the devices needed to be able to launch either a full-sized pumpkin, a gourd, or a candy-corn pumpkin. The students were to spend less than $5 on materials, although they were able to use found objects they had around their homes. The device had to be transported to the soccer field (the launch site) and operated fully by the students alone. The Third Grade students came out on the cold and wet Halloween morning to cheer on their friends. The variety of models built which harnessed human power was impressive! While no one chose to launch a full-sized pumpkin, the farthest launch of a gourd was 80 feet and a candy-corn pumpkin traveled over 90 feet!