Come on . . . who doesn’t at least occasionally want to smash stuff?! Use this as an independent project for future engineers, for a smaller STEM group--or if you have a “shop” at your disposal--as a whole class project.
I used this with 5th grade GATE. It could be extended to experienced 4th grade engineers or up through 7th and 8th grade. The math concepts will be a big stretch for the younger kids but provide a healthy discussion. They’ll be right on target for our middle schoolers.
We’re going to make a swinging wrecking ball from scratch using blueprints. Not only will we have a wrecking ball, but we can raise and lower the ball with a pulley and lever system and change the wrecking ball into a crane with a hook or magnet. When we’re done building, we’ll use the wrecking ball to learn about pendulums, and along the way, we’ll add background knowledge about potential and kinetic energy. Challenge the students to construct the wrecking ball/crane from the blueprints, or work with them step by step along the way.
This unit contains the blueprints you’ll need to build your product, pictures which lead you through the construction, tips and tricks, materials and tools lists, and ready-to-print activities/experiments for studying pendulums. Common Core State Standard references are also included.
If you plan to have the students do all the cutting, I recommend that you purchase a small craft saw. Otherwise, all the cuts are simple and can be made in advance by anyone with a basic saw and box frame.
Total cost for materials for each wrecking ball/crane if doing small group constructions = approximately $2.50. If you are just making one wrecking ball/crane for an independent study, it will cost more because you will have tons of leftover materials. Approximately 10 hours of class time.