I’ve been tasked with running a STEM activity at Walt’s Cub Scout meeting this Friday. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. A lot of people think that scouting is all about camping and fire building and knot tying but there are a ton of STEM concepts and activities that kids do through scouting. Game Design, Robotics, Inventing, and Programming are all merit badges available to scouts interested in STEM. However my task isn’t nearly that involved, I just need to teach a basic STEM concept through a fun activity that takes 5-10 minutes. With that in mind I decided to do the only logical thing: rip off an idea from Camp Sayre’s STEM activity menu, specifically the plastic spoon catapult!
This is just as awesome as it looks and even more so because it’s a requirement for Webelos Engineer Activity Badge. (On a side note, if any of you readers are on the fence about joining Scouting may I just point out that building a catapult as a family activity is a requirement in this organization!)
Here’s what you need:
- 9 wide as you can find craft sticks (you can use Popsicle sticks but wider is better for little hands). You didn’t hear this from me but if you’re bored at work you can also do this with pencils and torment your co-workers. In the name of science, of course.
- 6 rubber bands
- 1 plastic spoon
- mini marshmallows
- a target. We make towers out of plastic cups at Sayre but there are a ton of things you can use.
How to do it:
Take 7 of the sticks and rubber band them together at both ends. This is going to be the middle part of your catapult.
Now take the remaining 2 sticks and band them together but only on one side.
Next insert the 7 stick bundle between the two sticks and slide it down as far as you can. The further down you can get the more power your catapult will have. It should look something like this:
Now rubber band the whole thing together and then attach the spoon with a couple more bands to the business end of the catapult. Like this:
Voila! Now you have a working catapult and a budding engineer!