Due to social distancing, the Easter Bunny might not be able to get into your yard to hide eggs. Design a catapult for the Easter Bunny that will launch plastic Easter eggs or Easter candy into your Easter basket from a distance. Here’s an additional challenge: Does changing the weight of the eggs by putting candy into the eggs change the distance the egg travels? Does changing the angle of the launch change the trajectory and distance of the egg’s movement?
This challenge can be completed by kids 8 and up with minimal help. Younger children will need assistance with the challenge. Older children can design and build a larger and more complex catapult. Encourage all of your children to work together on the challenge. The gadget will be more elaborate when ingenious ideas are shared. I know right now your kids may be struggling with all the “together” time and want to work alone. But I have found during classes that even kids who start out working alone will begin to share ideas with others as they work.
When designing your catapult, think of a seesaw balanced on a metal bar – the lever. When an object is placed on one side of the seesaw that side goes down to the ground. If you jumped on the side that sticks up, the seesaw pivots over the lever, your side hits the ground, and the object flies towards you. Your design will need a lever that supports and pivots the catapult arm, a strong foundation to hold the lever, plastic Easter eggs or candy to launch from the catapult, and an Easter basket.
Gather materials to build the catapult that will inspire your inventor. Materials can include:
Spoon or paper bowl to hold the egg on the arm
Rubber bands or string to create the potential energy on the catapult arm
A dowel or pencil for the lever
Cool shot glue gun
For a large catapult, you could use PVC pipe and connectors
The steps for all Ingenuity Challenges follow the engineering design process described below. Starting from scratch might seem daunting, but once you get started every step gets easier to visualize. Remember the goal is to develop your child’s ingenuity – not yours! So do not solve the challenge for them — guide them through the process by asking questions instead. When the design doesn’t work as planned and your child asks for help, ask your child questions such as: “I wonder what would happen if you tried xyz?” “I wonder why not?” “I wonder how you could make changes?” “Did you think about xyz?”. Sometimes children are not accustomed to making mistakes and trying again without getting upset. Remind them that there is not right answer to an Ingenuity Challenge. Their ideas are good, but even the greatest ideas have to be modified.
During this shelter at home period, tackle the Ingenuity Challenges as a family. Let your child lead the process and enjoy observing your child’s creativity and ingenuity.
Ingenuity Engineering Design Process
Ask “I wonder how I can invent and build a gadget that solves this challenge?”
Sketch the gadget design ideas on a piece of paper. Label the materials and determine how many materials are needed. While building and testing, there will be changes to the initial design. That’s OK.
Build and Test
Build the gadget. The best way to start building… is just to begin! Don’t worry about perfection or knowing exactly how it will work. As you build, test the design. It can start small or in phases. Inventors constantly test and make changes as they build. When the gadget doesn’t work as planned, ask “I wonder why not?” and test out new ideas.
If we were at Ignite, all the kids would try out everyone’s gadget. But that doesn’t mean we can’t share! Post pictures and videos of your gadgets on social medial and tag Ignite so we can share on our Instagram page with #IAmIngenious. Email me pictures at email@example.com and I can post them on our website.
As you work through these challenges feel free to reach out to me with any questions via direct message on our Facebook page @igniteingenuity or Instagram page at @Ignite_Ingenuity.