CHS Physics Annual Catapult Launch
November 17, 2022
Jonathan Thomas-Palmer’s physics classes had their annual catapult launch on Nov. 15, 2022.
The objective of the catapult project was to explore motion in two dimensions interactively by constructing a catapult that would launch a rubber stopper. For the test of accuracy, groups aimed their catapult at an inflatable pool with a bucket inside that was four meters away. Groups were awarded points based on where their rubber stopper landed in relation to the bucket. For the measurement of distance, groups launched their stoppers as far as they could, aiming for the wall across the gym.
“It was cool to have this adventure and do something like [building the catapult],” Carl Gombert said. “It’s very different from something I would usually do in one of my classes.”
With roughly a month to complete the entire project, students had to pick a design concept, build their catapult, collect data on their trajectory and make modifications to their builds all before launch day.
“It was scary because we had to rebuild [our launcher] before the testing day, so we didn’t know exactly how it would go,” Mary-Margaret Hatch said. “We had to adjust our rubber band joints to get it at the perfect angle and hold down the catapult while we launched.”
Tensions were high on launch day. The project was only graded on stand-alone group performance, however, there was still a competitive nature present in the gym. Each group had five minutes to complete three usable trials which created a lot of pressure for both the observing students and group members.
“There was definitely a learning curve,” Gombert said. “[Other students] were making fun of our launcher so we made it a priority to do better than them. Our first couple of trials didn’t go far at all, but once Thomas-Palmer gave us a tip on where to place our rubber stopper, our launcher ended up working much better.”