This engaging STEM activity requires students to research, design, and build a catapult to evaluate, test, and apply knowledge about Newton’s laws of motion and forces. You can choose to have students create their own catapults independently or collaboratively as a group. NGSS MS-PS2-1 & MS-PS2-2
1-2 Days: Students will conduct research on the design of their catapult. They will then plan, design, and gather materials. (You can opt to provide them a design and materials if you choose to save time and structure the activity more.)
-Students will complete a cost cart for their materials. Each item they use will cost $1. They will be required to go over their materials with the teacher and get initials to "purchase" the items needed for their catapult. Totals will be tallied at the end of the project. The goal is to build the most cost-effective, functioning catapult.
2-4 Days: After deciding on a design and gathering materials, students will begin constructing their catapults and conducting trial tests. They will make adjustments and modifications as needed until they have a working prototype to play an angry birds game with.
-They may change or add materials as needed. All additional materials should be documented and signed off on the cost chart.
-Once students have a working prototype, they will be given “angry birds” and tower supplies to create and play a game that tests the effectiveness of their catapult and apply the things they have learned about Newton’s laws in the process.
-When playing their game, students should record the distances that their catapult makes contact with their tower and the mass of the “birds” they use at each test. They will later evaluate how the masses of the “birds” effected the force needed and distance traveled.
2-3 Days: Students will compare and present their catapults to the class. Students can vote on the best in different categories (design, distance, durability, speed, cost). Then, they will complete the rest of their lab sheet reflections on the assignment.
There is also a Collaborative Group Rubric included in this assignment to help students self-monitor themselves, and each other, throughout the assignment. You can have students fill in what they think they have earned in each category at the end of the assignment and then the teacher does the same. Average the two grades.