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In the Build a Model Catapult Flinn STEM Design Challenge™ for physical science and physics, build a basic catapult using simple materials. Fun competition.

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Inspire creative engineering in your classroom with this high-flying design challenge! In the introductory activity, students build a basic catapult using simple materials. Then they test their machines to determine how variables, such as the length of the lever arm and mass of the projectile, affect launch distance. Using their data and observations, students brainstorm how to improve the design to accurately launch a projectile at a target. Students apply their knowledge of levers, potential and kinetic energy and projectile motion in this fun competition!

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Developing and using models
Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Engaging in argument from evidence
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
MS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
MS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-PS3.C: Relationship between Energy and Forces
HS-PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models
Structure and function

Performance Expectations

MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
HS-PS3-3. Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.