Curious Catapults: Discovery at Home

Materials Needed:

  • Spatula
  • Spoons (large and small)
  • Tape
  • Recycled lids
  • Small, soft toys

Directions:

  • Place your item on the spoon handle and push the opposite end to create a catapult.
  • Make the small item land in a cup by launching it with the spoon or launching tool.
  • Keep the spoon and cup in the same position and only adjust how hard you launch the item and the angle of the spoon setup.
  • Try out different tests to see how much force is needed for different distances.

How to expand it:

  • Keep track of the data (write what happens) for each trial and analyze it. Did it take more force to reach the cup when there was more distance between the cup and spoon? Did you have to adjust the angle when prepping for the launch?
  • Use a different item that is a little heavier or lighter to launch. What did you have to do differently? How did the data change?

What do kids learn?

  • Cause and effect: launching your object makes it move through the air. The angle and force you use changes where the object lands.
  • When building, kids practice using the small muscles in their hands (fine motor skills) later used for writing.
  • Science vocabulary:
    • Force: energy caused by a push or a pull, in this case, the push given to the spoon by your hand and the object from the spoon
    • Push: when force moves an object away from something
    • Pull: when force moves an object towards something