This fun STEM activity is kid-approved! Create a catapult and set goals to see how far your catapult can launch a piece of candy. When you meet your goal, keep the excitement going by testing with other items, such as small, soft toys!
- Candy (or other soft, non-breakable items)
- Objects found around the house or classroom
- A ruler, tape measure or yardstick
Swap game night with invention night and kick it off with this fun idea! Tell your family that today’s challenge will be to catapult candy 10 feet. With a parent’s permission, search the basement, recycle bin, junk drawer and garage for items you can use to construct your catapult. Clothespins, spoons and scrap wood work great, but don’t stop there. Look for items you can upcycle to build a catapult! Simple machines are everywhere. Give your family 20 minutes to build their catapults. When everyone has finished, set up a launching pad and a target 10 feet away. Have your family count down from 10 as you test your catapults. Cheer when the candy lands on the target. Redesign your catapults if you are not successful the first time! Next, try launching marshmallows, other candy or soft toys to test how materials of different weights travel different distances!
Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!
Want to take this activity into the classroom? Use these modifications to the above at-home instructions to have fun while learning with the whole class!
- Split the students into teams of two or three with the same 20-minute period to build their catapults together
- Provide the class with a materials bin including rubber bands, pipe cleaners, binder clips, plastic spoons, activity sticks, etc. or allow students to use existing art supplies and items from the recycling bin to complete the challenge
What are we learning?
Why does a catapult fling candy so far? Catapults use a simple machine: the lever. The purpose of a lever is to make a load (in this case, candy corn) easier to move. There are four parts to a lever: a rigid bar (arm), pivot point (fulcrum), the object being moved (load force) and the force applied to move the load (effort force). Catapults use stored potential energy to eject the candy corn across the room. This stored potential energy transfers to kinetic energy as the candy is launched. Combining kinetic energy with a simple machine makes a task like hurling a piece of candy very exciting!
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