Seventh graders are diving into the STEAM curriculum with hands-on projects that incorporate many skills, including cooperation, building, experimentation, data collection and data analysis.
One activity in which students master these skills required them to build a catapult using 12 pencils, rubber bands, a plastic cup and a ping pong ball. Following a set of instructions, another valuable skill taught in this lesson, the students worked in groups to determine the best designs to achieve the greatest results when catapulting the ping pong ball towards a target.
“The project incorporates many different skills and allows the students to have fun while learning,” middle school science teacher Jean Rogers said.
Ms. Rogers said students test the catapults using variables to determine how far the ball will go. She said these variables include adjusting the number of rubber bands placed under a pencil or determining how far to pull the lever back before releasing.
Middle school science teacher Jeffrey Maier said that while students have to work hard to build the catapults, the real challenge comes when they must calibrate them and understand how they fire. “Through testing, measuring and data table completion, students gain knowledge of their individual catapult. On competition day, students are asked to use their data tables to help calibrate their catapults so they can be the group whose projectile is closest to the target,” he said.