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Dani Short

11/9/15
Period 6
Projectile Motion: Catapults
Introduction
This project was to get a better understanding on projectile motion. Rather than just
talking about it in class, I was able to get a hands on experience. The definition of a catapult is a
machine that stores energy and then quickly releases energy to fire a projectile. The first catapult
is believed to have originated in China around the 3rd century. Designs date back to countless
cultures, even before the Middle Ages. However, during the Middle Ages, ancient catapults were
one of the most effective weapons for warfare.
The design of my catapult had plenty of methods to determine how far or how near the
catapult was shot. I chose it because certain dimensions could be easily changed for the catapult
to successfully shoot 5 meters. The more rubber bands put on the rungs the faster the piece of
wood would release. Depending on how tight I tied the shoe strings would determine the
launching point of my catapult.
This project was on projectile motion. A projectile is a propelled object through the air,
but has no capacity to propel itself. Projectile motion is the movement of a projectile as it travels
through the air influenced by its original velocity and gravitational acceleration. The formulas I
used were Vx0=d/t, Vy=Vy0+ay(t), V0 squared= Vx0 squared + Vy0 squared.

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Design Plan
1. I used 1 piece of wood with a width of 3 inches and a length of 24 inches.
2. I used 1 base piece of wood with a width of 12 inches and a length of 24 inches.
3. 6 blocks (each with a width and length of 2 inches) were needed.
4. I used 4 circular hoops with a width and length of 1 inch.
5. I used 3 wooden poles with a length of 12 inches.
6. I needed 6 rubber bands.
7. I used 1 set of shoe strings.
8. I used 1 hot glue gun
9. Countless marshmallows will be needed to test the catapult.
10. I used a meter stick to measure off 5 meters to test my catapult.

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Data

Distance

Time

Vx0

Vy0

V0

5.1 meters

1.2 m/s

4.3 m/s

5.9 m/s

7.3 m/s

4.9 meters

1.2 m/s

4.1 m/s

5.9 m/s

7.2 m/s

4.8 meters

1.3 m/s

3.7 m/s

6.9 m/s

7.8 m/s

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In order to find my Vx0, I took the distance my marshmallow went divided by the time it
took the marshmallow to land. This gave me the initial velocity horizontally. In order to find
Vy0, I had to use a kinematic equation. I chose the equation Vy = Vy0+ay(t) because it
contained all the necessary components needed to solve for initial velocity vertically. I knew Vy
was 0 because with projectile motion, you can make the final velocity 0 at the top of the arch like
shape objects in projectile motion tend to make. Vy0 was my only mystery. Acceleration is
always -9.8 because of the force of gravity. And I divided my time by 2 because at the top of the
arch it only takes about half the time for the object to get there and I used 0 as my final velocity.
In order to find V0 I took my initial velocities both vertical and horizontal and squared them.
Then, I added them together and took the square root of my final answer to get V0.

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Conclusion
My catapult averagely shot around 4.9 meters with a time of 1.2 seconds. At first I
hypothesized that I would only need 1 rubber band on each side, but in the end I needed 3. Most
catapults had to be shot from a guessed release point whereas I measured my release point in
advance, so that it would be consistent. Possible errors could be tying my shoe string too tight. I
could also have had to many or too less rubber bands. Forensics people in a crime lab use the
projectile motion to predict from where a firearm was fired and where it would have landed.
Projectile motion would be important to some professional sports players such as golf and
soccer. When kicking a soccer ball, the projectile motion is important so that you can score a
goal or pass the soccer ball. When hitting a golf ball, the trajectory of it would be important to
score a hole in one!

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Sources
www.stormthecastle.com
pattersonphysics.weebly.com

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