Set up a car target launch STEM challenge for your kids. It’s a quick science and engineering problem that gets everyone thinking.
Car Target Launch STEM Challenge
Launching cars is a kid favorite. We’ve turned it into measuring practice before. Conducting an experiment to test how far cars are launched is one thing, but let’s issue an engineering challenge. Can you use the car launcher to make the car land on a target?
What You’ll Need:
- Toy cars
- Car launcher (or materials to build one)
- Target (piece of paper, tape, container, etc.)
- Blocks or other wall building materials (optional)
We used a ramp launcher from a Hot Wheels set, but you could also use a regular Hot Wheels launcher like the one shown below (it’s an Amazon affiliate link). This one is Star Wars themed but they come in a variety of options. If you don’t have a launcher, you could build a catapult. The catapult can launch whatever you like (doesn’t have to be cars) towards the stationary target.
Place the target on the floor. You’ll want to secure it to the floor to make your challenge more consistent. The cars will most likely move the target if it’s not secure. I used painter’s tape. You can also create a target out of tape. Just be sure tape is safe to use on your floor.
For our first target launch STEM challenge, we started with a small basket as the target. The target remains stationary. It can’t move. You have to discover how far away to place your launcher.
If the car lands on the target and bounces out, try again. You want the car to stay on the target (in the basket).
We increased the difficulty for our second target launch STEM challenge. Try to land the car on the flat target. (Ours was a piece of paper taped to the floor.) Now you don’t have walls to help stop the car. Does this change where you place the launcher?
One thing to note about these car launchers (or homemade ones): they are not highly consistent. They don’t always launch with the same force depending on how you press the button. It may take some time to figure out how the launchers work before you can get the cars to land on the targets consistently.
The cars overshoot the target quite often. What can you do to solve this problem? My son suggested building a wall for the cars to bounce off of. Then they would fall onto the target.
More STEM Challenges for Kids
- Try a classic egg drop experiment. This post has suggestions for how to design the challenge.
- Create a boat building challenge. Explore these 25 designs and experiments for kids.
- Check out our past #ShareScience challenges for a list of easy to set up challenges for kids of a variety of ages.
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