We had another very successful night of Ancient Engineering Class. Students expanded their expertise in making catapults. In our first class we build a catapult design to launch Tic Tacs(tutorial coming soon!).

In our second class we had two goals:

You can watch a YouTube video of me explaining the reasons behind class 2 as well as students in action.

1. Understand key components required for a successful catapult

2. Design a catapult from scratch based on experiences

For this class we used the PITSCO catapult. This catapult took a bit longer than anticipated, but that is perfectly okay. I would rather have too much than too little. Students had to really work through not only following instructions, but understanding spatial reasoning of looking at an image and making sense of it in the real world. 

Spatial reasoning and using glue were two skills that were developed. Both of these were skills that the students had to really upgrade in this project. It was a moment of insight for me as an instructor to make note of the idea that we cannot assume prior knowledge of use of materials no matter how common. This was really powerful for me to witness going forward as we begin our final build of a PVC trebuchet.

The students were focused. They worked to get their catapults functional and once they had it working we began to experiment with what leads to the farthest launch.

I had a tape measure of 16 feet thinking this would be plenty for the catapults. It did not take long for them to use the Play-Doh we were using as ammo dialed in to the right size and weight to maximize launch. This was followed up with creating more tension in the rubber bands which creates more potential energy by twisting the bands, adding more rubber bands, and sampling different types of rubber bands.

Before long we had objects clearing the entire room, launching up into the ceiling, and more. If only we had more daylight to take the outside to measure real distance. It was awesome watching them figure out how to make it work best.

Just like our first class the 90 minutes flew by. Students kept their catapults and some were able to design their own styles if they had time.

It was another successful night. I love working with kids who love learning. It is what makes me love being an educator. While I no longer have my own classroom, this space at 212 STEAM Labs provides me my classroom space to do the teaching the way I love and know works. The kids are so into their work that many don't want to leave.

As we head into our final two weeks of this course students will begin to design their own PVC trebuchet. They will be given specific materials. Nothing more. They will have to sketch their plans and have it approved to make sure they have proper materials before they cut. Once they start cutting their parts there is no turning back.

If you are interested in learning about the next project components make sure you stay tuned. I will be posting the document and guidelines soon. You can also join our community event on October 1st where we are hosting a weekend challenge of making a PVC trebuchet. .

Now it is back to work to fine tune some new designs. If you are checking things out from home, then make a catapult with your own household supplies. Send your work our way. We would love to see what others are making.

Finally, I will be building out Coffeechug Catapult 2.0 this weekend. If you want me to test out your ideas to make version 1.0 better check out the video and send me your ideas.