Catapult Challenge

Catapult Challenge

Time Frame: 5-7 Days (43 minute classes)

Stage 1 - Desired Results

Big Idea(s)
  1. Students will use the Engineering Design Process to design and create a catapult device that will improve flight distance with modifications to the frame and throwing device while keeping the design concept consistent.

PA Core Standards / Next Generation Science Standards
T & E EducationScience EducationEnvironment & EcologyMathematics EducationComputer ScienceCEW
  • 3.2.10.C7 Suggest additional steps that might be done experimentally.
  • 3.4.3.C1. Recognize design is a creative process and everyone can design solutions to problems.
  • 3.4.3.C2. Explain why the design process requires creativity and consideration of all ideas.
  • 3.4.3.C3. Recognize that all products and systems are subject to failure; many products and systems can be fixed.
  • 3.4.4.C2. Describe the engineering design process: Define a problem. Generate ideas. Select a solution and test it. Make the item. Evaluate the item. Communicate the solution with others. Present the results
  • 3.2.3.A2.  Recognize that all objects and materials in the world are made of matter.  (movement through and against air makes things able to fly)
  • 3.2.3.B1. Explain how movement can be described in many ways.
  • 3.2.4.B1. Explain how an object’s change in motion can be observed and measured.
  • 3.4.10.C2 Identify elements of simple machines in compound machines.
  • 3.4.10.C3 Explain fluid power systems through the design and construction of appropriate models.
  • 3.4.10.C.7 Know Newton’s laws of motion (including inertia, action and reaction) and gravity and apply them to solve problems related to forces and mass.
  • CC.2.3.2.A.1 Analyze and draw two and three-dimensional shapes having specified attributes.
  • CC.2.4.2.A.1 Measure and estimate lengths in standard units using appropriate tools.v
  • CC.2.4.4.A.1 Solve problems involving measurement and conversions from a larger unit to a smaller unit.
  • CC.2.4.2.A.6 Extend the concepts of addition and subtraction to problems involving length.
  • NA
  • A. Identify appropriate speaking and listening techniques used in conversation.
  • 13.3.3. C. Explain effective group interaction terms, such as, but not limited to: · Compliment · Cooperate · Encourage · Participate
  • 13.4.3. B. Describe the character traits of successful entrepreneurs, such as, but not limited to: · Adaptability · Creative thinking · Ethical behavior · Leadership · Positive attitude · Risk-taking

Essential Questions
  • How does planning and execution affect the intended outcome of a project?
  • Once a blueprint is made, how can you improve performance without changing the original design concept//final product concept?
  • What can be done to make the object fly the furthest distance possible?

Students Will KnowStudents Will Be Doing
  • Content specific vocab
  • Force
  • Catapult
  • Trebuchet
  • Slingshot
  • Trajectory
  • Hypotheses
  • Modification
  • Tension
  • Steps of design process
  • Define the Problem
  • Research//Exploration
  • Brainstorm and design solutions
  • Develop design
  • Initial build (prototype)
  • Test, modify, or redesign
  • Final Product
  • Materials exploration (They will be provided with some of the materials to test strength, durability, flexibility, etc…)
  • Design Concepts - Students will design a concept for a catapult once the limitations of the materials have been explored and understood
  • Build a catapult - Using the given materials students will build a catapult
  • Testing initial product - Students will be given time to test their build.
  • Modifications - Students will be given time to modify their product
  • Final launch - Students will launch their ‘satellite’ in competition.
  • Working collaboratively with a group of their peers
  • Analyze, compare, and rationalize results

Stage 2 - Evidence of Understanding

Assessments (Formative and Summative):Performance Task(s)
  • Informal Formative Assessments throughout unit (i.e. classroom observations, questioning)
  • Observation
  • Group work
  • Participation
  • Idea Sharing
  • Physical build contributions
  • Testing and modifications
  • Formal assessments on:
  • Distance of launch
  • Improvement after modification
  • Group Evaluation
  • Individual observations
  • Individual Course Summative Assessments
  • Record, analyze, and present written data
  • Students will design a catapult using the assigned materials
  • Students will build a catapult using the assigned materials
  • Students will test and modify the built catapult to increase performance
  • Students will discuss and explore the results of the build, modification, and launch
  • Students will measure, evaluate, and analyze results to find furthest launch

Stage 3 - Lesson Learning Targets

Learning Activities: Learning targets are written from the students perspective. I can…
  • Identify
  • List/Tell
  • Describe
  • Solve
  • Design
  • Build
These should lead up to answering the Essential Question(s).
  • Explore provided materials for strength, flexibility, durability, etc..
  • Create and render a detailed, written design
  • Assemble and build object based on initial design elements
  • Analyze catapult mechanism to hypothesize results
  • Test and analyze test results
  • Apply results to improve design and function
  • Make physical modifications based on observations from test
  • Measure, record, and track results of final launch
  • Use and show reasoning, planning, and evidence
  • Select or devise approaches among many alternatives to solve a problem
  • Gather, analyze and evaluate information, then use to draw conclusions


  • Teacher and Student Resources:
  • Catapult Presentation
  • Student data recording sheet
  • Peer & Self evaluation
  • Group Conclusions

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