We must agree that making a catapult and shooting pompoms at your brother is loads of fun. But with a little guidance, parents can give kids a hands-on lesson in engineering through the process. This week’s Maker Monday project — a Pompom Catapult — is a terrific STEM lesson.
Consider the science behind catapults: This catapult uses the stored energy in a springy craft stick (your launchpad) to shoot the pompom. Its fulcrum is the spot where the launchpad lever connects to the base. When the launchpad releases all that stored energy, your pompom is sent flying.
Experiment with moving the fulcrum forward or backward, which changes the angle of the projectile. Takes notes and gather data to determine which position shoots the pompom higher or farther in a more horizontal path. You can also check the result of a base made of more or fewer craft sticks. Try projectiles of other density and weight, like mini marshmallows or ping pong balls. How does that change your data?
Jumbo craft sticks
Stack 8 craft sticks and secure with a rubber band at each end.
Take 2 more sticks and place crosswise, one under and one over the stack. Use a rubber band and twist over and under to secure the sticks. This point of intersection is your fulcrum.
At one end, secure the sticks in a closed position with another rubber band. Slide the original stack toward that end.
Attach a bottle cap to the opposite end with a glue gun.
You are ready to launch. Place a pompom in the bottle cap, press down and let it fly!
For more Maker Monday projects and other fun stuff for kids, visit the Kidsburgh Activities page.