[Ms. Darea used the study of pumpkins in first grade to introduce the science concepts of force and motion. Here’s what she had to say.]
This week we learned about pumpkins and what better way to introduce force and motion than watching videos of catapults at pumpkin chunkin’ festivals?! The kids watched the videos, looked at some pictures, and then were given a shoe box, 2 popsicle sticks, 4 rubber bands, a plastic spoon, a 6 inch piece of masking tape (which they measured), a pair of scissors, and a ruler, and were told to build a catapult in groups of 5. They were so excited! I was hesitant, but SO amazed at how well they did with this. Within 20 minutes each group was testing their catapults with wonderful results!
Friday was the competition. Each team gave themselves a name. Since they didn’t all agree on team names, each group had to vote between two and decide who had the most votes. We were going to shoot marshmallows but quickly realized this was not going to work so we switched to cap erasers. Later we talked about how scientists often go through trial and error to learn what works best. So, each child in the group launched the eraser from their team’s catapult and the greatest distance was marked with a piece of masking tape with their team’s name on it. Team Catapult was the winner!
We measured each group’s distances with yard sticks and wrote down the numbers in our science notebooks. Back in the classroom we talked about the catapults’ designs and why some shot things farther than others. We also talked about the amount of force that was put on the catapult and why this might affect how far the eraser flew. We also compared the shortest distance to the longest distance and took a difference between the two. It was pretty cool all around. What a group of little physicists!