Science for Dolphin Swimmers and Time Travelers, week 1

Straw Bridges, Gumdrop Structures, and Catapults

Today we reviewed the steps that engineers go through to imagine, design, and build things to solve problems.  We talked about simple machines (catapults), and the Time Travelers learned about potential and kinetic energy.  The Dolphin Swimmers heard the story of Rosie Revere – Engineer.

The Dolphin Swimmers designed and built structures out of 10 gumdrops and 20 toothpicks, with the goal that the structure could support a CD case.

The Time Travelers designed and built bridges to span a 25 cm gap using straws and tape.  Their goal was that the bridge could hold a plastic cup, and we tested the strength by putting a small weight in the cup.

Both groups built simple catapults from a plastic spoon, a popsicle stick, a pencil, and rubber bands, and then tested their builds with a paper ball, a gumdrop, or a mini-marshmallow.

Here are some questions you can ask your child:  

  • How would you change the design of your bridge/CD holder if you tried the build again?
  • Which shapes are the strongest?  How would you use those shapes in building your bridge/gumdrop structure?
  • Which object flew the furthest from your catapult?  Why do you think one flew further than the other?  Why do you think different people’s catapults threw the same object different distances?
  • What other objects would you try to launch from your catapult?
  • Why do you think people originally designed and built catapults?  What problem were they trying to solve?