The shot put is one of the Olympic spots that most children have probably never seen. It isn’t often featured on television. Why not introduce your children to the shot put by creating a catapult that will fling a shot put across your yard. Our shot put is features a bucket that is hand shaped. The arm is made from an old paintbrush. The payload or shot put is a series of balls. I wanted my son to experiment with a wide variety of balls to see which one would travel the farthest. Adding the ball element made this a STEM experiment. Actually I guess I should call it an Olympic STEM experiment.
Creating Your Catapult Design
You start this experiment by tracing someone’s hand onto a piece of cardboard. We used cardboard from an empty cracker box. It was a little bit thicker than the cardboard from a cereal boxes.
Then we cut out the hand with sharp scissors. I want to use scissors that would easily cut through the cardboard.
After the hand was cut out we traced the outside edge of the and and drew on fingers.
A small slit was cut from the wrist up about three inches. The right and left sides of the wrist were overlapped and taped. This made the hand cup. The cupped area would be where the shot put would fly from.
The hand was then attached to a paint stick with duct tape. You can try a variety of types of tape is you like. We have found that duct tape does a great job for us.
The fulcrum or support for the hand and the brush is an old peanut jar. We filled the jar with pebbles to keep it from rolling around.
Setting up the Catapult
The hand and brush were placed on the jar so the hand was resting on the ground and the end of the brush is up in the air.
Then you have select what type of ball you can to try to fling.
Here are some types of balls you may want to try:
- Bouncy balls
- Wooden spheres of balls
- Rubber balls
- Golf balls
You can try each of the balls to see which one will fly the farthest.
Actually Testing Out the Catapult Design
- You can try moving the paint stick forwards and backward on the plastic jar to see what placement will allow the ball to fly the highest.
- You can try placing your finger or fingers in different places over the jar. (Holding your fingers over the jar will keep the hand and stick from flying into the air with the ball.
- You can try hitting the end of the paint stick in various places to see what different it makes in the distance the ball flies.
As you can see there are many variable that can be tested out while conducting this experiment. I just know your kids are going to have fun trying to get the ball to fly the farthest.
This is part of an Olympic series being hosted by KC Edventures. Please stop by and check out a list of all the activities.