How To Build A Pumpkin Launcher – Every fall I take the kids to the local pumpkin patch where we pick the perfect holiday flowers… so they start all over the field! This year we saved up some cash and built our own pumpkin patch in the yard.
My hubs helped with this project. He had leftover PVC pipe from another project, so he went to the hardware store to pick up some parts and a new PVC can. He managed to do it in about an hour.
How To Build A Pumpkin Launcher
The design of this catapult is based on the Tabletop PVC Catapult from Storm the Castle. Ours is double the size – we used one inch PVC pipe and made a catapult about 3 feet long. It’s super easy and can be thrown in the back of my SUV and taken to the park or a friend’s house.
This Guy Made An Actual Pumpkin Launcher, It’s Pretty Dope.
You can spend $20-$30 to build this catapult if you have to buy ALL new supplies – a new batch of PVC cement was ten bucks by itself! Additionally, you’ll need a few dollars worth of small pumpkins or a bag of cheap apples to throw away.
I’ve been to a pumpkin patch where they charge you a dollar or more for every pumpkin you carve. Now that you have a catapult, you can have more fun than just throwing pumpkins!
We filled the bucket with handfuls of candy and made chocolate rain! I’m not sure I’d want to use this for trick-or-treating on Halloween – the candy is everywhere – but I think it would be fun to take to Halloween parties.
If you don’t have PVC pipes lying around in your basement, you’ll need to make some equipment.
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An adult will need to help cut the tube down to size – the hub used his hacksaw, but a simple hacksaw will work. He also used a drill to pierce the pipe to add to the produce basket.
The design takes about 14 feet of one-inch PVC pipe, along with a 3-inch bolt, a nut, and a few feet of bungee cord that we found at the cargo hold supply. You can also use a heavy duty rubber band.
The pulling power of the catapult is determined by the thickness of the bungee/rubber and how often you roll the catapult. This one folds twice and takes some muscle to pull off. But the distance! WOW!
Our basket is a small (15 oz) container of butter. Feel free to use whatever is appropriate. If you don’t have a disposable tube, you can cut off the bottom of a milk jug and use that. Fall is the perfect time to engage students in pumpkin experiences. Increase student learning and engagement by incorporating these lessons across all STEM subjects and literacy!
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The first pumpkin activity is a pumpkin seed STEM puzzle. In this activity, students predict how many seeds are in the pumpkin. Next, students sort the class predictions into odd and even numbers. Finally, students complete a pumpkin test where they make predictions and measure the pumpkin. See more about this activity HERE.
The art and development of thinking is the next, STEAM activity, focused on pumpkins. For this challenge, students practice drawing a pumpkin several times, focusing on reflection and improvement with each new drawing. See more about this activity HERE.
The Pumpkin Stand STEM activity is always a student favorite! In this activity, students design a stand to support a mini pumpkin using straws and ribbon. See more about this activity HERE.
Can you make a catapult to throw the pumpkin farthest? That’s the question students are investigating for this upcoming challenge, the Pumpkin Candy Catapult STEM. Students design their own catapult using sticks, plastic spoons and rubber bands. See more about this activity HERE.
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Students get creative with the following challenge, 3D Shape Pumpkin Builder STEAM. In this activity, students will design and decorate a 3D pumpkin. Students also record facts about their pumpkins, including the number of faces, corners, and edges. Extend the lesson by having students write a fictional story about their pumpkin. See more about this activity HERE.
Combine growth thinking and STEM with this latest pumpkin challenge, making a STEM pumpkin candy jar. For this challenge, students use paper and tape to make a container that will hold all of the candy pumpkins. Students will complete this activity twice and use a growth mindset to reflect and develop their designs. See more about this activity HERE.
Make the best pumpkin day for your students this fall by getting involved in STEM! All of these activities include a discount on Pumpkin Day STEM activity resources.
Join our free Facebook group Elementary STEM Teachers Club! Learn more about how to incorporate STEM into your classroom and collaborate with other STEM teachers! Join now!
Celebrate Pumpkin Day With Stem — Carly And Adam
We hope you found this blog post helpful. Be sure to follow us on Activities, Holidays, Science by Carla at Powol Packets Preschool // Saturday, October 29, 2016 // Comment
I am so excited to share pumpkin catapults with you!! I was trying to think of a new Halloween science project for Halloween Science in the Garden on cleanup day when my eyes fell on the fall display we have of little pumpkins. I looked at them for a few minutes and tried to imagine any STEM activity we could do with pumpkins. And then it hit me: the Pumpkin Catapult science experiment!
And they don’t just fly pumpkins in catapults, they use real pumpkins as the base of the catapult! Not only is it related to pumpkins, Halloween, Fall, and science themes, pumpkins provided a base for a catapult that was sturdy and easy enough for preschoolers to build their own catapult! The pumpkin holes helped stabilize the rubber bands, which in turn made this project perfect for little hands!
Our pumpkin catapults required only four items: small pumpkins, a spoon, rubber bands, and honey. We tried everything from wood to decorating the fulcrum, but in the end we decided to bring craft sticks to everyone so that every child can easily adjust the size and position of the fulcrum.
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Pumpkin catapults consist of three main parts: the pumpkin base, the spring arm, and the mechanical rod support. Rubber bands hold everything together. You can move the parts and keep them with different amounts of tension to get very different results on your catapult!
I show everyone the pumpkin catapult we made earlier and let them pull out the pompom a few times. Then we turned things off and everyone was busy! My older kids immediately started exploring their closets. For the kids who needed instructions, I told them to first use the rubber bands to secure the spoon and then place the craft sticks (funkru). They had to experiment a bit to find the most spring in their spoon. They can add as many rubber bands as they need to get the tension they think is best. It doesn’t have to be done this way, but it was an order that worked for some kids who needed extra guidance.
Many of the children experimented with the pom poms I brought, but then spread out across the garden to find their load to start with. One of the best things we saw was a tree hat… a little girl had her hat up close to a tree 20 or 30 feet up!
Our toddlers all needed a lot of help making them but were able to use them independently. Most children over the age of 5 can make their own pumpkin catapult. Older kids (of all ages!) did the whole project on their own and could apply the physics principles of measurement and fulcrum position; type, number and position of rubber bands; and the load (or the actual object being worked on). In fact, we had some wonderful conversations with the little guy about his choice of balls and how his weight and size affect how far he can reach!
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I love how well this project combines science ideas and skills. It requires scientific processing skills such as observation, planning, generating hypotheses, testing and testing your plan, analyzing your results, and making any necessary changes. During the experiment, they experience first-hand physics concepts of levers/cantilevers, fulcrums, payloads, energy, gravity, force, mass, and more!
You can also put the supplies you need in a “STEM wonder bag” and challenge your kids to create a device with the supplies in the bag. This easily covers all four STEM fields
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