Force and Motion: Pumpkin Chunkin STEM Activity

Grade Levels
6th - 11th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
4 pages
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Engage your students with this fall-themed Pumpkin Chunkin' STEM activity! Used as an introductory activity or as a summative assessment, this lesson is sure to excite and motivate your Physical Science students.

The object of the activity is to build a catapult that can propel a candy pumpkin 1 meter forward using materials that are given to them. The challenge becomes deciding what materials will give them enough force to propel the pumpkin into the air. My students love the freedom that they have in this activity to become mechanical engineers that can design and build their own catapults. This activity has been used in high school, middle school and upper elementary Science classes.

This lesson plan is aligned to middle and high school NGSS standards as well as most State standards and includes a 5-E lesson plan, teacher instructions page, a student guide (with inquiry questions), and a target template that becomes a game for early finishers or students that need a challenge.

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Total Pages
4 pages
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system. Emphasis is on the quantitative conservation of momentum in interactions and the qualitative meaning of this principle. Assessment is limited to systems of two macroscopic bodies moving in one dimension.
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object. Emphasis is on balanced (Newton’s First Law) and unbalanced forces in a system, qualitative comparisons of forces, mass and changes in motion (Newton’s Second Law), frame of reference, and specification of units. Assessment is limited to forces and changes in motion in one-dimension in an inertial reference frame, and to change in one variable at a time. Assessment does not include the use of trigonometry.
Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration. Assessment is limited to one-dimensional motion and to macroscopic objects moving at non-relativistic speeds. Examples of data could include tables or graphs of position or velocity as a function of time for objects subject to a net unbalanced force, such as a falling object, an object sliding down a ramp, or a moving object being pulled by a constant force.
Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects. Examples of practical problems could include the impact of collisions between two cars, between a car and stationary objects, and between a meteor and a space vehicle. Assessment is limited to vertical or horizontal interactions in one dimension.


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