For students on the Blue Team at the Oswego County BOCES’ Stepping Stones Day Program, learning was in the air – literally – during a recent classroom lesson that incorporated physics, math and engineering.
The all-encompassing lesson provided Robyn Yorker’s class with a chance to engage in a hands-on experiment where students explored the science behind catapults as part of their summer science instruction.
According to Yorker, the activity showed students how the scientific concepts behind a catapult are utilized in real-world applications. She noted that engineers use these concepts every day, as they need to understand how much force is required to make an object move.
As part of the project, students researched a variety of catapult designs, watched instructional videos and then selected a soda can model for their own experiments.
The class also delved into the Scientific Method, and each student was required to make a hypothesis regarding which objects they believed would travel the farthest when launched from the catapults.
Once the hypotheses were formed and the foundation for the experiment was laid out, students then built catapults and put their theories to the test.
They launched a variety of objects multiple times and recorded the distance traveled for each object. Using the data, students were able to determine the average distance each object traveled and then examined how the experiments aligned with their initial hypotheses.
“Creating catapults was a fun way for the students to learn about the relationship between force, mass and acceleration, or Newton’s Second Law of Motion,” Yorker said.