Friday, September 27, 2013

Science Friday - Catapults

Science Friday was awesome!  We generally do a Science Tuesday twice a month, but due to a drama class at the same time for my Kinder we through one on the calendar for Friday.  Our science day is basically CJ's science curriculum for the Kindergarten year.  Science happens to be awesome as a big group activity, so we always set it up so that our homeschooling group can join us.

We often use ideas from one of the Mythbusters Science Fair books.  One of the items that was tagged by CJ was catapults.  We started the day watching 2 episodes of Mythbusters before our friends came over.  They were both based on catapults.  They often have 2 myths paired together so we skipped over the parts that were about the other myth and only watched the catapults parts.  When our friends came over we watched a short video about a catapult that explained what they do. (*Watch out for the ads at the beginning and the end.  There is also a naughty word in the middle that I muted while the kids were watching it, so watch it first if that is a concern for you.)

After we watched the video we talked about what a catapult was.  Then I handed out spoons to practice catapulting small animal counters around the room.  It's a simple catapult to introduce the idea to the kids.
 Next, I gave a quick demo on how to build a small wood catapult.  The directions are in the Mythbusters book (mentioned above).  All the wood was cut and pre-drilled for the kids so they could do much of the work on their own.  The kinders and younger needed extra assistance from their adult, but the older kids loved it!  We got to assembling our catapults and launching gluten-free Cheerios around the room. The kids were also given crayons and markers to decorate their catapults however they liked.
 The idea of the catapult is simple.  There is a dowel through the middle of another dowel that freely turns in the side brackets.  There is a hook on one end of the dowel with a hook on the bottom board of the same side.  A rubber band is hooked between the two hooks.  A small basket (the bottom of a plastic cup) is taped to the other side of the small dowel.  The basket is pulled down creating tension on the rubber band.  When it's released it catapults the objects from the basket.
 We tried all sorts of experiments to see if we could fling them up the stairs (and how many stairs it could go up) and we catapulted them down the stairs and across the room.  We explored different types and sizes of rubber bands and had to deal with some stress fractures in the small dowels.  We certainly put our catapults to work!
It was a great day of catapults and playing with friends!

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