Tinsel Toss Christmas STEM

The holidays are here and it is time to decorate! But this year we want to add some STEM to our decorating adventures. Introducing the Tinsel Toss Catapult! A Christmas STEM project that will make decorating fun and educational this year.

Christmas STEM Catapult Challenge

Tinsel Toss Christmas Catapult STEM Challenge

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With the festive season upon us, it is time to have some fun and celebrate! We always have so much fun with our Christmas STEM Activities, and one of our New Years STEM Activities was a confetti cannon. Well we thought about it and decided a really fun twist for Christmas would be to make a Tinsel Toss Catapult!

The catapult is a classic STEM challenge that is much loved by kids all over the world, and through time.

There is nothing more satisfying than launching something with a gadget you built yourself. Seeing it fly through the air? That is a moment to be proud!

So to start our kids on their journey with STEM, engineering a catapult and learning the physics of a good launch is the perfect first gadget. Add in the fact that this is Christmas themed and you can use it to decorate a tree?

Priceless!

Video of Tinsel Toss Christmas STEM

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Supplies

Jumbo craft sticks
Elastics
A small cup or container
Glue
Tinsel
A tree (optional… kids can just toss tinsel!)
Bells (optional)

Directions

So once we gathered up all of our supplies we set about building our catapult. We did make one major change from our original catapult, we increased the container size so it could hold the tinsel.

To begin we made our stack of 8 jumbo craft sticks and secured them with an elastic on each end. Call this stack 1.

Next take two jumbo craft sticks and secure them with an elastic at one end only. Call this stack 2.

Carefully slide the bottom craft stick in stack 2 between the bottom two craft sticks in stack 1. This will open up stack 2 to form a ‘V’.

Now secure the two stacks together with an elastic.

Using a bit of glue attached the cup or small container to the top craft stick on stack 2. Ensure you leave a small bit of the craft stick at the top to get your finger on for launching. Let the glue dry completely. You may need to hold the cup on the craft stick for a few minutes until it stops sliding.

Your Tinsel Toss Catapult is complete!

Using the Tinsel Toss Catapult

Simply load your tinsel in the cup, pull down (place a finger on the base so it doesn’t bounce), aim it at your tree, and LAUNCH!

Wait… we have a problem! Time to employ those critical thinking, problem solving and STEM skills. The tinsel doesn’t go far. Ask your students why they think this is happening, and what can be done to solve it.

STEM Extension

OK, so fair warning, tinsel is light. Crazy light, which means it doesn’t fly very far with our little catapults. One way to challenge the kids is to have them engineer and work with the physics to see if they can figure out how to launch their tinsel the farthest.

This is a great way to turn this into a true STEM Challenge.

We found the best way to get more launch from our tinsel was to increase the weight of the tinsel by adding some bells, or you can also lengthen the top craft stick by adding another craft stick. Certain types of tinsel also weigh more, and therefore launch better.

All of these are possible solutions to increase your spectacular launches. What other solutions can your students come up with?

Have a blast with STEM this holiday season!

Tinsel Toss STEM Challenge for Christmas

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