Lesson details

5, 6



Position, direction, and speed

Properties of energy

Scientific process


Transferred and transformed

Recommended Technology: 
  • Computers
  • Interactive board/tv
  • 1:1 devices
  • Apps for formative assessments (Socrative, Quizlet, Quizizz, etc.)
  • Presentation apps (Shadow Puppet, Google Slides, Power Point, etc.)
Other instructional materials or notes: 
  • Graduating Engineers and Computer Careers article, “ Fun and Games,  Engineers and computer scientists are turning their passion for play into exciting careers at toy companies.” (see Lesson Resources for PDF)
  • Design Squad video, “Nerf Toys” In this video, Hasbro toy engineer Amanda Bligh demonstrates how work can be play when you spend your day designing products like Nerf Hoops and Nerf Blaster.
  • Catapult Design Worksheet – This worksheet guides students through the design process as they design, build, and test their catapults.
  • Paired Verbal Fluency Strategy (teacher resource)-

 a dialogue strategy used to engage students in an active verbal discussion. It can be used to review or summarize information or concepts previously learned or access prior knowledge or thinking about a concept or topic of study. The strategy allows students to construct their own learning and listen to the ideas of others.

  • To access prior knowledge, the amount of time should increase from round to round. For example, the time would increase from 15 seconds in Round 1, to 30 seconds in Round 2, to 45 seconds in Round 3. As students’ prior knowledge is accessed, they are able to remember more and make more connections, so the longer span of time as they move from round to round is needed.
  • Each group of 3-4 needs:
  • 3 sheets of paper (for brainstorming)
  • Markers
  • Place the following materials in a clear zip-lock bag. Each group gets one bag of materials for the design stage. During the build stage they will be deciding on the quantities of materials they will need. (Each group gets only 1 base)
    • cardboard base (6 x 6 inches)
    • ~48 inches of masking tape
    • plastic spoon
    • 3 rubber bands
    • 8 Popsicle sticks
    • 4 straws
    • 1 Ping-Pong ball
  • To share with the entire class:
    • targets made of cardboard or foam core board (10 points, 50 points, 100 points and 200 points)

Catapult Calamity

Multiple days
Lesson type: 
Project Based Lesson
Lesson overview: 

Students will use engineering skills and knowledge of forces, motion, angles and simple machines to build a catapult that will hit multiple targets.

Essential Question: 

How can we use our knowledge of force, motion, and simple machines to design machines to hit targets?

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