Catapult Chaos Activity

“Death by Marshmallow” Integrated Activity
Your Challenge:
1. Research, design and construct a working catapult.
2. Launch a marshmallow the greatest possible distance (range)
Pre-Construction Phase:
 Research various catapult designs throughout history.
o Include two websites appropriate for teacher use.
o Include two websites appropriate for Junior Level students (i.e.) student friendly.
o Include a short description of the website.
Choose a particular model or create your own design for your working catapult. Please
consult the material list below.
Include a sketch or print out of your chosen catapult design.
Construction Phase:
 Construct a working model using only the materials provided. Materials will include:
o 30 cm length of 0.5 cm pieces of dowel
o 100 cm length of 2 x 2 cm pieces of wood
o 22 cm length of 3 by 1 cm piece of wood
o material for 4 wheels
o elastic bands
o 12 small nails
o hammer, saw, drill and drill press, glue gun, mitre box
Testing Phase:
 Select ONE variable to test the performance of your design. For example,
o Variable #1: Using ONE elastic, explore the relationship between the number of
“elastic twists” and the distance the marshmallow is flung.
o Your group must create, test, and document the results of ONE test (i.e. number of
elastics, height of elastic, distance launcher is pulled back) to explore how various
components of the catapult effect the distance the marshmallow is flung.
Each variable must be tested at least FIVE times to ensure some level of accuracy in your
experimental results.
Analysis Phase:
 Using AppleWorks, systematically record all data obtained from your testing situation.
 Create a graph for the variable tested. (see THE MAKE-A-GRAPH SYSTEM hand-out for
 Analyze the test data you have obtained. Include such information as:
o How does _______ affect the projectile distance?
o What inferences and conclusions can be drawn from the collected data?
o What did you discover?
Your group report must include the following:
1. All information from the Pre-construction phase (i.e., catapult sketch & websites).
2. Analysis data, including: AppleWorks spreadsheet, the AppleWorks graph for the trial, and
the analysis of the test data (see previous page for specific details).
3. A list of the concepts and skills (specific expectations & strand) you expect students to learn
(or confirm they know) as a result of completing this Challenge. Select ONE grade level.
Justify your choice of grade level.
a. in Science
b. in Mathematics
c. in other curricular areas
4. A brief discussion considering the following:
a. What modifications might your group make (in wording, in design parameters, in
materials, etc.) prior to introducing this Challenge in your Junior level classroom?
b. How could you assess student learning? What specifically do you believe could and
should be assessed?
5. Written reflections responding to the activity. Please respond to each of the following
a) What knowledge, skills, and attitudes do you think children would develop through
completing a similar activity? Explain.
b) What did you learn? Consider such topics as: what did you learn about catapults; about
building and construction; about design processes; about equipment use; about
technology and spreadsheets; about yourself.
The self-evaluation evaluation sheet for the group (one per group).