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Energy Launcher. Project #2 Introduction to Transportation. Objectives. After completing this activity, students will be able to: State the differences between Potential and Kinetic Energy. Calculate the amount of force and work your project has.

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energy launcher

Energy Launcher

Project #2

Introduction to Transportation


After completing this activity, students will be able


  • State the differences between Potential and Kinetic Energy.
  • Calculate the amount of force and work your project has.
  • Calculate the height of your arc you used to succeed in completing the objective
  • State the processes involved in creating an energy launcher.
  • Create an energy launcher that will project a baseball 30 feet forward in the air into a cardboard box.
  • Throwing a baseball seems like a pretty easy thing to do. Have you ever tried to throw a baseball at a small target before? With this project you won’t be throwing the baseball yourself but instead constructing a project capable of throwing the baseball into a box 30 feet away. You could construct a catapult, trebuchet, or other slingshot type device. Be creative and have fun.
potential and kinetic energy
Potential and Kinetic Energy
  • What is Potential Energy?


Potential Energy is the same as stored energy.

potential and kinetic energy1
Potential and Kinetic Energy

The "stored" energy is held within the gravitational field. When you lift a heavy object you exert energy which later will become kinetic energy when the object is dropped. A lift motor from a roller coaster exerts potential energy when lifting the train to the top of the hill. The higher the train is lifted by the motor the more potential energy is produced; thus, forming a greater amount if kinetic energy when the train is dropped. At the top of the hills the train has a huge amount of potential energy, but it has very little kinetic energy.

What is Kinetic Energy?


“Kinetic energy" is the energy of motion --it's ability to do work.

what is kinetic energy
What is Kinetic Energy?

The faster the body moves the more kinetic energy is produced. The greater the mass and speed of an object the more kinetic energy there will be. As the train accelerates down the hill the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. There is very little potential energy at the bottom of the hill, but there is a great amount of kinetic energy.

  • When your Energy Launchers are latched and on the ground they are exerting potential energy (energy with the potential to move), even though they aren’t moving.
  • When you release the latching device your project exerts kinetic energy, energy in motion.
calculating force
Calculating Force
  • Calculate the force applied to the spring/rubber band in each trial (W = mg) Use g = 9.8 m/s2 and m stands for mass in grams
calculating power
Calculating Power
  • Power is the rate at which work is done. It is the work/time ratio. Mathematically, it is computed using the following equation.
calculating apogee
Calculating Apogee
  • What is Apogee?

The absolute top position of the ball being thrown before it starts to come back down is called an Apogee.

To measure Apogee we need two things: Tangent Angle and an

approximate distance away from the object being measured. Usually Altimeters are for measuring vertical distances but it will work equally well in our situation.

First someone will stand 100 feet away from your project. Once your project is launched that person will use the Altimeter to get the tangent angle. Next we multiply the tangent

angle by the distance away from your project to get the height that ball reached.

Height of Ball= Tangent angle x

distance away from project

  • Scrap wood
  • Pine
  • 2 x 4’s
  • PVC pipe
  • Materials from home
  • Supplies from trays
  • Machines and tools

Each student will design, sketch, and construct their own Energy Launcher using various materials and equipment in the Construction Lab. The Sketches are random ideas of your thoughts but there should be a minimum of 4. From those 4 sketches select 1, draw it in detail using a ruler and straight lines (no freehand drawing). Be sure to include dimensions on your Initial Drawings. When the project is complete you will be required to complete the evaluation form and do a Final Drawing. The Final Drawing compares what your Energy Launcher ended up looking like (again, no freehand drawing, use rulers) to what you drew for your Initial Drawing. Your grade is broken down into 3 parts be sure to see the Evaluation part for further explanation.


Your grade for part 1 depends on how close to your Initial Drawing you constructed your Energy Launcher. The closer it resembles your Initial Drawing, the better your grade will be. The more changes you make or extra pieces you add the lower your grade will be. There are no partners on this project; each student must make their own launcher. Part 2 depends on whether or not the launchers when done are larger than 16” long x 16” wide x 16” tall when it is set or smaller than 12” x 12” x 12”. You will be automatically disqualified and receive a zero if it is larger or smaller in any or all of these dimensions. Part 3 is that the launcher must launch a baseball at least 30 feet in a forward direction and successfully into the cardboard box at the 30-foot mark.


The projects must be latched or have a latching mechanism where the students can have the project on the ground ready to go without them holding it. The students will then be able to set off their projects by triggering their latches. You will not receive credit if you manually pull back your launcher and let it go.You are not limited to wood and the materials I have in the Construction Lab, you can bring in resources from home. Your project might use elastics, or a spring, or make it look like a slingshot. Your energy launcher must have a trigger or device to set it off or your project will get a zero. A hook and latch method is good as well as a dowel rod that you pull out..


On testing day you will be given 3 chances to complete the objective. You will have ample time to do this project and testing and practicing is always allowed. There should be no excuses as to why your project is not completed and in working condition. We will be testing these outside the Blue Doors in the Construction Lab. You must do all work in class unless I give you permission to take it home. Be creative on this project and a nice design and creative effort will only increase your grade. Good luck

  • Brainstorm ideas and sketch 4 of them onto 2 pieces of paper
  • Choose a design that you like the best, draw an initial drawing of it with dimensions
  • Use the supplied materials to create the energy launcher
  • Finish the energy launcher using a filler and any color paint you choose or vinyl
  • Sketches and Initial Drawings are a separate grade worth 100 points
  • There is a final drawing and an reflective worksheet that counts as a separate grade of 100 points
  • See Attached Rubric
  • Remember that there is no fooling around in the lab
  • Do Not aim your project at someone and launch it
  • Always wear your safety glasses or you will be removed from class
  • Project works repeatedly
  • Project has a latching mechanism that works repeatedly
  • Project launches a baseball forwards 30 feet and into the box
  • Project looks like Initial Drawing with minimal changes
  • Student shows above average effort
  • Student shows above average safety skills

100 Points

  • Project works sometimes
  • Project has a latching mechanism that works sometimes
  • Project launches a baseball forwards 30 feet and into the box
  • Project looks like Initial Drawing with moderate to minimal changes
  • Student shows average effort
  • Student shows average safety skills

75 points

  • Project works sometimes
  • Project has a latching mechanism that works sometimes
  • Project launches a baseball forwards less than 30 feet and not into the box
  • Project looks like Initial Drawing with exceptional to moderate changes
  • Student shows moderate effort
  • Student not allowed in class if not demonstrating proper safety skills

50 points

  • Project does not work
  • Project does not have latching mechanism
  • Project doesn’t launch baseball
  • Project does not look like drawing at all
  • Student shows no effort
  • Student not allowed in class if not demonstrating proper safety skills

0 points

Lewis S. Mills High School Mission Statement
  • The mission of Lewis S. Mills High School is to foster academic excellence, personal growth, and respect for diversity. Within a safe learning environment, we share the collective responsibility with students, parents, and the community to cultivate the skills, knowledge and attitudes that help our students to realize their full potential as learners and responsible citizens, and to experience success beyond high school.
  • Student Performance Expectations:
  • 1. The LSM graduate comprehends written, visual, and auditory texts and communicates with clarity in a variety of modes.
  • 2. The LSM graduate effectively employs critical thinking in the problem solving process.
3. The LSM graduate demonstrates effective use of information and technology to enhance learning.
  • 4. The LSMgraduate demonstrates knowledge and skills to improve personal wellness.
  • 5. The LSM graduate acquires and applies knowledge within and across the curriculum to develop a global perspective.
  • 6. The LSM graduate is a responsible member of the community demonstrating respect for self and others.
  • 7. The LSM graduate demonstrates ethical behavior and assumes responsibility for his/her actions.
  • 8. The LSM graduate is aware of the importance of the arts in expressing the human experience.