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11 Launch and Catapult Science Projects

Put physics in motion! Experiment with the science of launching and catapulting with fun hands-on science and engineering projects. How can science explain trajectory, flight path, and aim?

Photo collage of eleven launch and catapult based science projects

Launch and Catapult Science. Hands-on STEM with Science Buddies. www.sciencebuddies.org

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.
  • Build a Popsicle Stick Catapult: 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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Photo showing examples of multiple Launch and Catapult Science activities for kids

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