Catapult Design: Flight of the Marshmallows

In this lab you will design a better catapult device for the Queen’s kingdom using only copy paper, two rubber bands, tape, and a single ruler. Designs will be evaluated on both distance traveled by the marshmallow and catapult weight. This lab draws from concepts in the engineering design process as well as elements of projectile motion.

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Student Version
Student Advanced Version

Teacher Version

Recommended Prerequisites:
  • Students doing this lab should be comfortable with basic arithmetic and square roots.
Key Concepts:
  • Balancing multiple objectives with one another is a critical part of the Engineering Design Process. This is done by exploring the balance between maximizing projectile distance and minimizing catapult weight. This is known as design compromise.
  • Exploring the basics of projectile motion including the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy and the effects of projectile mass on flight path.
  • Copy paper (unlimited amount)
  • 2 rubber bands
  • Masking tape (unlimited amount)
  • 1 Ruler, straight stick, or paint stirrer
  • 3 small marshmallows
  • 3 jumbo marshmallows
  • 1 yardstick or measuring tape
  • Ideally, 1 calculator per student; at a minimum, 1 per group
We want your feedback! Please leave a reply below with your comments, questions, or suggestion to help us improve the lab.

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