Daily Archives: November 6, 2009

Catapulting to an A in Physics


Ain't he cute?

See this cute, blue-eyed guy? You might think it’s a skinny depiction of my cute, blue-eyed #1 son. But you’d be wrong.


The #1 son and his catapult

Actually, it’s part of the catapult that the #1 son and his partner, Little Jean, built for high school physics (with help from #1’s friend Tanner, who actually had both the woodworking tools and know-how to cut the wood and pvc pipe). I just couldn’t help but add the facial features to the photo I took of the cup that the tennis ball is launched from.

Sidebar: Kids like the #1 son are in deep trouble when it comes to making projects like the catapult, because they have parents who couldn’t work a miter saw to save their lives. And I don’t even know if a miter saw was used to make the catapult nor would I know what one looked like if I hadn’t Googled it. Just sayin’.


Rubber bands at the ready

Once the catapult was made and brought to our house, the #2 son couldn’t wait to test it out.


Texting away

Not so his older brother. Even though his grade depended upon how far and how accurately the launched tennis ball would travel in comparison to the other class catapults.


Pre-launch: Pulling the catapult's arm back

However, #1 was gently persuaded by his everloving mother to sit his carcass in our cul-de-sac and practice launching the tennis ball. He and Little Jean were guaranteed a 70 for producing the catapult. But even though #1 doesn’t care, I personally don’t want him to “earn” a D on a major grade. The further and more accurately the tennis ball went, the higher their grade would be. Bring on the competition!

Sidebar: A couple women came by during this event launch. One of them said, “Oh, is that your catapult for physics? I remember my son’s catapult.” In our neighborhood, when catapults are sighted, everyone knows the kids are taking physics. Fond memories? Or frightful ones?


#2 fiddles with the rubber bands.

Before long, the #2 son just had to take over the catapult. He figured he could get more distance from the arm if he just adjusted the long rubber bands that helped propel it forward.


It's off!

Sure enough, the catapult was able to send the ball further down the street. Too bad the younger brother couldn’t help his older sibling during the launch at school!


Sylvia adds her support.

It might have helped that my neighbor Sylvia came out to watch the goings-on. Hey, it’s not every day you see a catapult in our cul-de-sac!


#2 measures the distance under his dad's supervision.

How did we know how far the tennis ball flew? It just so happens that #2 owns a measuring wheel (which he bought with his own money). That came in very handy!

Once the tweaking was done, #1 took the catapult to school and put it to the test. He added 12 points for distance to his base score of 70. But when it came to accuracy, the device was coming up way short until his classmate Eric, whose catapult had hurled the ball the furthest and most accurately, lent #1 and Little Jean the bungee-cord device that he and his partner James had used. Bingo! Fifteen more points for accuracy! Mark that 97 in the gradebook!! And put a smile on my face like the one on the cup in the first photo.

Now you might think that we would keep this particular catapult for when the #2 son takes physics as a junior. But you’d be sadly mistaken. He already has plans for making a super-duper device that no doubt will earn him a 100. If so, he can thank his brother for giving him the inspiration and motivation.

And I’ll be ready to put a smiling face on yet another catapult launching cup!