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Catapult Project

Mr. McLean: 8th Grade Physical Sciences Final Project

Why Study Physics

During the course of this year we have learnt a lot of
different concepts.
Why do we learn about physics?
How can we apply what we have learnt?
How does this knowledge apply to other branches of

What is a catapult?
When was it first used?
What was it used for?
Are they still used?
If so what types of things do we do with catapults now?
Have you ever used a catapult or any of the principals
involved in firing one?

This project will allow
students to experience
the scientific process.
In addition to applying
physics and Engineering
skills you will also be
required to systematically
collect and analyze data,
and then use this data to
improve your design.

Build a working catapult

What variables affect the accuracy of a catapult?
What can you control?

You must construct a catapult that can consistently hit a
target that is 5, 10 and 15 meters away.
How can you construct a catapult that is both accurate
and has a long range?
Can your catapult consistently hit targets at a close
range and at a long range? Can it survive multiple

Students will be graded on the overall construction of
their catapults and the effectiveness of their
In addition students will need to effectively and
accurately collect data in both trials.
Each student will be expected to produce his/her own
supporting evidence. Although you will be working in
small groups plagiarism of any kind will not be accepted

Produce a proposal and get approval from Mr. McLean 10%
Working model of a catapult - 30%
Successful testing and data collection of catapult followed by design and
engineering modifications 15%
Retesting of catapult and increasing accuracy and/or range (including accurate
data collection) 15%
Supporting evidence outlining research into underlying principles 30%

We will be working on this project from now until nearly the end of T4.
The work produced should be a very high standard your best of the year!
For this project you will be working in small groups but each student will be
expected to produce their own supporting evidence. This must be your own
You must bring in the scientific concepts covered in this course. We will discuss
them as we design, build and test our catapults. It will be up to you to tie all
these concepts together and apply them in your final supporting evidence.

What Concepts Apply to Catapults?

Projectile Velocity
Projectile Motion
Wind Resistance
Tension and Torsion
Newtons Laws of Motion
Simple Machines

Launch Angle
Pullback angle
Elasticity of mechanism
Length of lever
Speed at release
Consistency of release accuracy
Distance from target
Mass of projectiles

In order to proceed to the construction phase of this
project students will need to produce a detailed proposal
of their catapult construction.
The proposal should include evidence that the topic has
been extensively brainstormed and all aspects, especially
safety, have been considered.
Finally as part of the proposal process the group should
produce a small prototype to aid in the initial design

Working Model of a Catapult

Each group must produce a working version of a catapult
capable of performing the task outlined above.
Students will be assessed on the construction of the
catapult and its suitability to the task.
In addition the catapult will have to be safe to operate
and use within a school environment.

Testing and Data Collection

A large part of the grade for this project will be gained from
testing the catapults and collecting large amounts of data.
Each student needs to construct a testing protocol and
data table that tests the accuracy of the catapult.
At this stage of the project we are more concerned with the
collection of reliable data than the actual accuracy of the
catapult. Following the data collection the students will
make alterations to the design to improve its performance.

Improving and Retesting of catapult

to increase performance
Based on the data collected in the previous section
students will now alter the design as needed in order to
improve the performance of the catapult.
Remember the aim of the task is to consistently hit
targets at different distances.
If the previous design was perfect can you alter the
design so that it has a greater range? What variables will
you manipulate to achieve this?

Supporting Evidence
In addition to the model catapult students are required to
produce either a booklet (1 per student) or a website
(using weebly or another free provider section per
student) that explains the concepts studied in this
This will be a large grade for this term and as such this
should be the best work you have produced all year.

Supporting Evidence
In addition to constructing the catapult student are required to produce some
form of supporting evidence to accompany their projects. 1 per student.
The supporting evidence could be a booklet or website containing the following
Introduction to project
Underlying physics, engineering, and math concepts
Testing and data collection
Redesign and Retesting