Programming Fun

Camp Tween – Confectionary Catapults

photo 1

Extra materials were added to give this machine more “umph.”

And here’s summer again! Which means another year of Camp Tween STEAM programs at my library. This year I’m focusing more on the T, the E, the A and shockingly the M in STEAM rather than S. I have something special planned in the fall in the S. Last week I kicked things off with Confectionery Catapults and it was awesome.

Ages: Grades 3-5

Planned for 24, 22 attended.

Staff: Myself, two teen volunteers

Supplies and Cost: Rubber bands I stole from the supply closet (FREE!), building supplies such as wooden tongue depressors, wooden bamboo skewers, plastic spoons, plastic cups, many bags of marshmallows (ammunition and building supply), balloons and stuff to set up a practice range and testing area.

This model was more for the aesthetic.

This model was more for the aesthetic.

Inspiration: A co-worker did a similar program with teens so I adapted one from Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction by John Austin and added an easier one I found on Pinterest and a simple shooter.

What Happened: I reversed things in this program. Usually I start simple and work up to more complicated but with this program I knew once they started testing their catapults and flinging marshmallows around it would get progressively harder to reign them in. So we started with the most complicated build and then got easier. We made the first two together, I handed out instructions and modeled how to make one with my volunteers helping out. As they finished I had them take two practice shots and then go back and tweak their design to make the marshmallows go farther or more accurate. We moved on to the next build and repeated the process, make, test, tinker. Then we took a break for snack and a quick chat about what they found worked or didn’t work or what other materials they could use to improve their design. Then they made the mini-marshmallow shooters and things got crazy. But it was the end of the program and they picked everything up so SUCCESS!

Take Away: Include more test areas for accuracy and have a wider variety of supplies to tinkering.