Monday, October 29, 2012

Science Saturday - Pumpkin Catapults

This was the last Science Saturday of 2012 (mainly due to holidays), but it was fun to go out with a bang! Thanks to the families that came out! We had a beautiful morning in the park.  I took some pictures of our friends and the craziness of having 10 catapults shooting at the same target, but I haven't gotten permissions from parents to post. Here's the non-identifiable rundown.

I took 10 minutes the night before to cut and paste some Halloween themed characters made out of construction paper onto the back of a 36-pack of Diet Pepsi (ya, I haven't quit my drinking habit) and made some arbitrary point system that the kids loved! Who doesn't love scoring 50 points vs 25 or 10? Yay, math!

And I arbitrarily set up three cones, which the kids moved throughout the day. As long as they were having fun, learning science, and not bored, I didn't really care where they shot their catapults from.

I covered a paper box with construction paper and drew a spider web to hold our ammo.

Here's our ammo of various sizes and weights; we also used candy corn pumpkins:

Big J and I spent the week before gluing sets of 3 Popsicle sticks together to use for the catapult structure and 5 Popsicle sticks for the launching stick, using wood glue - white glue works well too (both have to dry for ~24 hrs before applying load/playing). Catapult directions (note we only used 3 sticks instead of 4 for the structure sides to save Popsicle sticks and time and it worked well). Since we do these events at the park and there are times little kids grab things that are hot (be it knowingly/unknowingly), I invested in some Ultra Low Temp Battery Power Glue Guns. They worked well for the two hours we needed them. They use a lot of their "special" type of expensive glue sticks, but we didn't have burns or complaints. The batteries also pop out really easily, so I'd recommend taping the battery case shut. Also, since the glue doesn't do a great job (just a so-so job), I'd recommend reinforcing what you glued with masking tape.

Big and Little J launching pumpkins. Little J being a tad bit over dramatic.

A friend playing the target game.

We only had one friend who ventured outside of the example catapult design. He modeled his new design off of one Big J had 3D printed and brought to the event. I love it when kids challenge themselves.

Remember the science behind catapults? It's the transfer of energy, from elastic energy (which is a form of potential energy - it will potentially do something once you let go after stretching it) to kinetic (a fancy term for motion) energy.

Humans also need energy to "go" - can you name how we get our energy? Hint, it's not elastic.

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