Classroom Catapultsby: Diane D. Villano

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"Wow, our plastic load flew 540 centimeters! This is so cool!" An interdisciplinary unit on catapults was responsible for the excitement and enthusiasm generated in the author’s classroom. In their social studies class, students learned about the Middle Ages (500–1500 A.D) throughout Western Europe and the Eastern and Middle Eastern countries. In their math class, students learned about data collection, graphing, statistics, and metric units. In the science classroom, students focused on controlling variables while testing and modifying classroom catapults, which were popular weapons in the Medieval Ages.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Wed Oct 24, 2012 6:33 PM

I really like the lesson plan idea presented in this article. This activity would be perfect for a science enrichment or after school science club. I am considering using this lesson, with modifications, for my science enrichment class. However, I would not have access to a hallway for the "launch". I will need to adjust the load and catapult designs for launching within a smaller area. Overall, this lesson appears to be very workable, and once the initial investment is made in the wooden platforms, it would run at minimum cost. Also a great interdisciplinary lesson, combing science, math, social science and even language arts.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:54 AM

This is an excellent article for providing a way to integrate History and Science. It also uses simple materials to construct a catapult launcher out of a block of wood, a plastic spoon, some screws,a paper clip, etc. The author said it was a great activity for encouraging cooperative group work, and there were some opportunities for students to improve upon the designs of their catapult launchers. Students used plastic electrical caps for their "loads", so safety goggles were a must. It sounded like a highly engaging and effective way to integrate the Middle Ages with Science.

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

  • on Wed May 01, 2013 2:39 PM

This article outlines an idea for integrating science, design, math, and social studies into one fantastic activity. After learning about catapults in history, students construct their own catapults to see who can launch a projectile the farthest. After they launch, students measure the distance travelled during three trials and then find the mean. The article does not include a diagram of the catapult that the students built. Hopefully I will be able to find a template online!

Maureen Stover  (Fayetteville, NC)
Maureen Stover (Fayetteville, NC)

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