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Others Like “Into the Wild Blue Yonder: The Science of Launching an Airplane by Catapult”

Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail If you were in a raiding army in the Middle Ages, a catapult would come in mighty handy for taking down castle walls. But only if you could aim it reliably! With this science project, you will try your hand at catapult technology. Using a rubber-band-powered catapult you will send ping pong balls flying through the air. The catapult's design makes it easy to measure and repeat how hard the ball is launched and its direction, so you can find the right catapult settings to hit the target reliably. Read more
ApMech_p008
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability A catapult kit is needed; see the Materials tab for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Do not aim the catapult at breakable objects or people; minor injury possible.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail You may have seen movies or read books where armies in medieval times catapulted large rocks or other objects at castles (or each other!). These armies used different types of catapults to accomplish different goals — for example, launching things over or into castle walls to knock them down. In this experiment, you will use a ping-pong ball catapult to lay siege to a "castle" and find the right settings to hit your targets. Read more
Phys_p085
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Specialty items. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Minor injury possible. Keep your fingers clear when launching the catapult. Do not aim the catapult at people.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Just one sheet of paper can lead to a whole lot of fun. How? Paper planes! All you have to know is how to fold and you can have a simple plane in a matter of minutes! But what design should you use to build the best plane? In this aerodynamics science project, you will change the basic design of a paper plane and see how this affects its flight. Specifically, you will increase how much drag the plane experiences and see if this changes how far the paper plane flies. There is a lot of cool… Read more
Aero_p046
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety Fly your planes in a large area, away from foot and vehicle traffic.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail What can you do with magnets and ball bearings that makes a lot of noise? Why, build a magnetic rifle, called a Gauss rifle, of course! Now, this rifle is not a weapon, but a way for you to learn a lot more about physics concepts, like momentum. In this physics science project, you will investigate how far a ball bearing launched by a Gauss rifle will fly, depending on how many magnetic acceleration stages are in the rifle and the ball bearing's initial velocity. This science project makes for… Read more
Phys_p081
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Specialty items including neodymium magnets and steel ball bearings are needed for this project. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety A Gauss rifle can produce high velocity projectiles. Do not aim the gun at anyone or anything; do not put your hand in front of the projectile. Operate the Gauss rifle safely. Be sure to read the important safety notes at the beginning of the Experimental Procedure before you begin. Scissors or other metal objects may be attracted to the magnets; use caution when using metal objects near the magnets.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail If you have ever tried to hit a target (such as a trash can) with a wad of paper, you know that aim is everything. But it is not always easy to get it right every time! Missing is not that big a deal with a wad of paper, but what if you were in an invading army in the Middle Ages, using a catapult to hurl huge stones and knock down castle walls? For a successful invasion, it would be important to know exactly how far, and how reliably, a catapult could launch a projectile. In this project you… Read more
Math_p046
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites An introductory-level understanding of statistics (mean, standard deviation, and the normal distribution) is helpful, but not required for completing this project.
Material Availability Requires catapult kit. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety Do not aim the catapult at people or breakable objects; minor injury possible.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail In physics class, you have probably rolled your eyes at some point after being assigned a "projectile motion" homework problem where you use equations to predict how a ball will move through the air. This experiment will show you just how fun that problem can be by using a real catapult to launch a ball and videotaping it as it flies along its path. Then, you will analyze the video and compare it to what the equations predicted. If you have ever wondered if those equations in your physics… Read more
Phys_p089
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites This project requires a basic understanding of algebra, trigonometry (sine and cosine functions), and physics (kinematics—two-dimensional projectile motion), or the willingness to learn about these subjects on your own.
Material Availability This project requires access to a video camera (not included in the cost estimate) and the purchase of a catapult kit. (See the Materials and Equipment list for details.)
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety Minor injury possible. Never aim the catapult at anyone, and keep your hands and fingers clear of the moving catapult arm when launching the catapult.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever seen butterflies fluttering around outside, gliding through the air and landing on flowers? While they are delicate and fragile, butterflies are actually excellent flyers. They are so good, in fact, that scientists at Harvard University studied butterfly wing shapes as an inspiration for building a miniature flying robot. In this science project, you will do your own version of the Harvard scientists' experiment to measure the flight performance of butterfly wings. Read more
Aero_p049
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail A trebuchet is a catapult that uses a counterweight to supply the energy for throwing. They were used in the Middle Ages for attacking castle walls. In this project, you build your own model trebuchet and investigate how design changes affect throwing distance. Read more
ApMech_p013
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Adult supervision required
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever noticed how some jet planes have small, vertical projections as the tips of the wings? They're called winglets. What are they there for? Read more
Aero_p013
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- Less Details
Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Did you know that throwing, kicking, and punting a football all involve the science of projectile motion? A star NFL® quarterback, kicker, and punter each need to have a very good understanding of how a football moves through the air in order to help them win games. In this science project, you will set up a rubber band-powered catapult to represent a field goal kicker, and study how changing the distance from the goalposts affects how hard it is to accurately kick a field goal. Read more
Sports_p059
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- Less Details
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science project requires a kit available from the Science Buddies store. See the Materials and Equipment list for details. Estimated project time includes shipping.
Cost Average ($40 - $80)
Safety Never launch projectiles at people, animals, or anything fragile. Be careful not to get your fingers caught in moving parts of the catapult.
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