As the winter snows melt and sunshine begins to extend and warm up each day, you know Spring is in the air. At Gail N. Chapman elementary school in Randolph, 2nd grade students ‘Catapulted into Spring’ with a STEM activity that consisted of two parts. Each student was given a bag of various materials that could be used for each part. In part one, students could use pieces of wood, rubber bands, tape, and a spoon to create a catapult that would fly a plastic egg into the air. In part two, students needed to create a nest type structure to catch the egg. The structure could be made out of toothpicks, lollipop sticks, jelly beans, gumdrops, marshmallows, and grass clippings.
The first part of the STEM challenge focused on leverage and force, as students needed to be sure their catapults could take an egg at least 6” into the air. They experimented with various lengths for their catapult, and how much force would be needed to get the proper height and distance they were looking for.
The second part of their STEM challenge required their catapulted eggs to be caught in a nest type structure and they were not to touch the ground. Students discussed various creative ways to accomplish this and were left to explore their own engineering and design. Conversations about what design to use, and what materials worked best were taking place all over the classroom. Once time had elapsed for their construction and building, it was time for each student to attempt to catapult their egg into their created nest. No matter how many students were able to launch their eggs into the nest, all students succeeded in having fun and experimenting with leverage and engineering.
By: Rob Griffith, CA BOCES Professional Development