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Launch and Catapult Science

Put physics in motion this summer! Experiment with the science of launching and catapulting. How can science explain trajectory, flight path, and aim?

Launch and Catapult Science

K-12 Science Projects and Activities

The following Science Buddies projects explore the science of launching and catapulting with trebuchets, rockets, catapults, or similar devices and setups:

  • Bet You Can't Hit Me! The Science of Catapult Statistics: gather data about how far balls travel when launched from a catapult, and then use the data to construct a histogram. What catapult settings produce the most consistent results?
  • Bombs Away! A Ping Pong Catapult: experiment with the Ping Pong Catapult to find the right settings to launch a ball into a target.
  • Bottle Rocket Blast Off!: investigate how the air pressure you create in a bottle rocket before launching changes the maximum height it reaches once launched.
  • Build a Gauss Rifle: use magnets and ball bearings to set up a Gauss rifle and experiment to see how the number of magnet stages relates to the flight distance and velocity of the ball bearings.
  • Erupting Diet Coke® with Mentos®: explore the physical reaction that happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos. How is this different than a chemical reaction?
  • Launching Homemade Baking Soda Rockets: learn more about chemical reactions when you blast a homemade rocket into the air using baking soda and vinegar.
  • Mini Trebuchet: make a mini trebuchet from wooden sticks and craft materials and see how the movement of the lever arm relates to the path and distance of the projectile.
  • Paper Rocket Aerodynamics: explore the design of a straw-blown paper rocket and the variables that affect its flight.
  • Projectile Physics and Catapult Science: build and experiment with a simple catapult made from wooden sticks and rubber bands to explore the physics at work in a catapult.
  • Two-Stage Balloon Rocket: build a multi-stage balloon rocket and explore Newton's laws of motion.
  • Under Siege! Use a Catapult to Storm Castle Walls: explore the settings on the Ping Pong Catapult that control whether the ball will fly into into a castle wall or over it.

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Launch and Catapult Science


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