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Others Like “Launch Time: The Physics of Catapult Projectile Motion”

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 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 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.
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.
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Have you ever seen a "Hail Mary" football pass, where the quarterback tries to throw the ball as far as possible to reach the end zone and score a touchdown? Or a last second game tying soccer goal from midfield? How far the ball will go does not just depend on how hard a player throws or kicks it; it also depends on the angle at which the player launches the ball. In this sports science project, you will investigate how launch angle affects the distance that a ball travels by filming… Read more
Sports_p036
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability This science project requires a computer with internet access and a digital video camera with a tripod. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Be sure to do this science project in an open area like an empty football field, where you will not hit people or buildings with the ball.
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 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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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Science Fair 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
Science Fair Project Idea
thumbnail Hold onto your hats! In this science fair project, you will make a device that sends a film canister across the room with a small chemical explosion. The energy for the explosion is derived from the combustion of ethanol. You will determine the launch velocity of the canister, as well as devise ways to study changes in gas pressure and volume due to the explosion. This science fair project is sure to take your breath away! Read more
Chem_p074
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Knowledge of basic chemistry and physics would be helpful, but is not required. Experience with power tools will be helpful. This is a DIY (do-it-yourself) project that will require some creative problem-solving on your part.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety Minor injury is possible, so wear safety goggles. Avoid breathing the fumes caused by the explosion. Adult supervision is required.
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