Monday, May 9, 2011

Mini-Catapults, part 1

Well, we are dwindling down to our last two weeks of club; and it's been a very engaging experience for all of the students. They came to club this afternoon very excited about working on catapults these next couple of weeks. Many of them have heard much about marshmallow-flinging catapults from fellow classmates that participated in the TSA (Technology Student Association) in February.  All session they asked me when they would get to make catapults, and now its finally time!

We began our meeting today with a keynote presentation taking a brief look at the history of catapults, learning about how it was a derivative of the ancient cross-bow, viewing its basic design, seeing video clips of the catapult's use during the Crusades and modern day uses at "Punkin' Chunkin", and finally watching a few amateur tutorial clips on creating miniature catapults. However, they were so excited to get started it was hard to watch the tutorial clips and dive right in to some hands-on ingenuity. After all, this is Engineering by Design - what better way for them to really understand the ins-and-outs of torsion-controlled catapults than to put their heads together and build some!

Along they way this afternoon the teams came across a few hiccups as they tried to engineer their precision machines. One such hiccup was the lack of a hot glue gun. (Will have to remember that for next week.) Another was the discovery that our scrap wood pieces were not as flat, as tall, or as chunky as they would have liked them to be for their bases. They did, however, discover the wonders of Gorilla tape! In fact, I saw a team try to fold up a small strip of the tape and wind it up between two popsicle sticks for the torsion band. I think they later decided against the tape idea and went with several rubber bands twisted together.

The teams did not finish their catapults today, but were promised time during next week's club meeting (our last one for the session, and the year) to finish their catapults before the trials. Below are a few shots of the teams as they work to put together their catapults:

The Black Ops Bros. working on their design. The Victorians using some Gorilla tape to help
stabilize their cross bars.
The Engineers building a catapult. The Engineers testing the tension on their rubber band.
The Engineers piecing together their catapult. Engineer John testing out their catapult arm.
Science and Technology team working on their catapult Science and Technology team working on their catapult.
The Science and Technology team pausing in their construction for a quick shot. Team S.A.T. working together to construct their mini-catapult.
Leonardo's Assistants working on their catapult
Leonardo's Assistants testing the power in their skein.


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