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Others Like “Bet You Can’t Hit Me! The Science of Catapult Statistics”

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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- Less Details
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.
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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- Less Details
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.
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.
Project Idea
thumbnail In baseball, coaches use hit charts to track the results of every hit each player makes, giving a measure of the player's performance. Have you ever wondered what things affect where a baseball goes when a player hits it with a bat? In this project you will set up an experiment to hit a ping pong ball in a controlled manner using a toy catapult, then learn about the physics of baseball by making your own hit chart. Read more
Sports_p060
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites To do this project, you should understand what a coordinate system is and know how to make a simple scatter plot.
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 or animals. Be careful not to get your fingers caught in the moving parts of the catapult.
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.
Project Idea
thumbnail If you have ever been shot with a rubber band then you know it has energy in it, enough energy to smack you in the arm and cause a sting! But just how much energy does a rubber band have? In this experiment you will find out how the stretching of a rubber band affects the amount of energy that springs out of it. Read more
ApMech_p017
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- Less Details
Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever wondered why golf balls have a pattern of dimples on their surface? The dimples are important for determining how air flows around the ball when it is in flight. The dimple pattern, combined with the spin imparted to the ball when hit by the club, greatly influence the ball's flight path. For example, backspin generates lift, prolonging flight. When the ball is not hit squarely with the club, varying degrees of sidespin are imparted to the ball. A clockwise sidespin (viewed from… Read more
Sports_p012
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites To do this experiment you must have sufficient golf experience to swing a golf club consistently and have access to golf clubs.
Material Availability Specialty items
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail Naval fighter pilots seem to defy physics each time they fly their jets off of an aircraft carrier. Normal runways are thousands of feet long so that airplanes can develop enough lift to fly. But a runway on an aircraft is much shorter. How can naval pilots get their fighter jets into the air without falling off the carrier into the ocean? Well, because they get a boost from a catapult! Sounds unbelievable? It's not, and you can find out more about catapult-assisted takeoff in this aerodynamics… Read more
Aero_p048
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- Less Details
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
There is a bewildering selection of different golf balls to choose from for playing the game. Some less expensive, some more expensive, all with different claims for the advantages they will bring to your game. This project can help you determine which type of golf ball is right for you. Read more
Sports_p015
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites You must be an experienced golfer to do this project. You'll need a large open space where you can hit a lot of balls (and recover them).
Material Availability Specialty items
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Make sure that you have plenty of space outdoors, and no one downrange.
Project Idea
Do corked bats really hit the ball further? What about other materials? Here's a project to find out. Read more
Sports_p047
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- Less Details
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites It helps to be handy with building things: you'll need to design and build a bat-swinging device for this project.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Adult supervision recommended. Adult assistance required for drilling bats.
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